Album Review
by Neo Ende

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Garbage: 'Bleed Like Me' - why?
Garbage: 'Bleed Like Me'
Garbage: back to the drawing board but…

Garbage and, in particular, Shirley Manson have had four years of turmoil, pain and doubts, on the way to the new album, ‘Bleed Like Me’. The trouble started as soon as they hit the trail to promote the 2001’s album ‘beautifulgarbage’, 2 days after the ‘9/11’ tragedy and, predictably, due to the catastrophe in the USofA, their efforts could hardly attract any notice. The rest of the Western World were going through the similar sentiment of uncertainty that, combined with a fairly average material on the disc, it failed to be either commercial or critical success.

Amidst the chaos that ensued after the modern American tragedy was followed by the band’s support slot on the U2 tour during which the founding drummer Butch Vig was hospitalised with hepatitis and Bell’s palsy whilst Manson was discovered to have a potentially cancerous growth on her vocal chords. It turned out to be just a cyst but there was a danger that she would never sound the same again.

Luckily for all concerned it wasn’t the case and she sounds bitingly on form, passionately and furiously intoning her words. That wasn’t the end of the band’s troubles: Manson had a writer's block for a year-and-a-half and seriously considered quitting the music business. To add to her messed-up mental state, Butch phoned and told her he was quitting the band and moving to LA. Shirley retreated to her home country [of Scotland]. For the next five months the band grounded to a limbo-state until all four members, separately and in different locations, worked out their issues of anguish. They found desire to face each other and attempt revitalising their collective career. Shirley also split with her husband.

The psychological scars notwithstanding, the tumultuous times appear to have emptied the band of creative juices. And, the lukewarm reception of ‘beautifulgarbage’ pushed the band to revert to an earlier sound, the masterfully presented one on their debut album. A move that looks foolish considering that nothing is frozen in time… Thus, three great tracks: the current single, ‘Why Do You Love Me?’, Foo Fighters frontman/Nirvana drummer [Mr Vig produced ‘Nevermind’] Dave Grohl-guesting track, the opening ‘Bad Boyfriend’, and ‘Run Baby Run’ that nears to the ideal of what a pop song should be.

The album is a product of a traumatic creative process that surely fuelled its revitalised sound, it informed its take on the world and themselves for a set of songs that ring with some electro pop-rocky vigour in few instances. But, it also deals in clichés, from some topics [‘Sex Is Not The Enemy’, titular track] to a number of musical ideas such as utterly pedestrian ‘Right Between The Eyes’…

Finally, Ms Manson’s current look: what is Shirl trying to do - rebel or repel? The likelihood of the latter is high… Not the hottest looking female rocker by a country mile, her latest image makes her even less attractive… Could the answer be in the pop chart placing of the excellent single at - their best landing ever - No. 07? Where will this album be on the Sunday’s list?

Will Garbage make another album? Do we care, anymore?


Neo Ende
Garbage’s album ‘Bleed Like Me’ is released 11 April 2005 by WEA