Garbage – Strange Little Birds


Artist

Album

Strange Little Birds

Label

STUNVOLUME

Year

2016

Genre

For Fans Of

90's alternative music that's still relevant.

Summary

'Strange Little Birds' is what a band sounds like when they have complete freedom to explore every avenue.

Rating

83 / 100

Can you believe that it’s been over 20 years since Garbage ,took the world by storm with their strong fusion of sounds? Well good news for fans around the world, they’re back for their sixth studio album, ‘Strange Little Birds‘. Unlike their 2012 release, ‘Kind of People‘ this album feels much more free from external factors and label pressure and has allowed Garbage to truly create what they want.

Since their debut self-titled album, Garbage have really grown up a lot. Their existence came at a very tricky time in the music industry, where the world was seeing a massive shift in sounds. But with some trial and error, it took two years until we saw their initial albums hit the world by storm, being certified double platinum. Fast forward two decades and what do we have? An album that shows the foundations of their rock and grunge roots. From the arrangements, the melodies, the guitar tones, you can really tell this band was born in the 90’s, but that they have learnt to adapt to 2016.

Now, if you’re a close minded individual you probably won’t find the appeal in this album, but for me, I really have! A lot of bands are not willing to take risks nowadays. They’re not willing to be different or trying to showcase their strengths and weaknesses. Garbage have always been a band that does this to the greatest degree. They can write a catchy riff that sounds like a million you’ve heard it before, but then they’ll take it in a completely obscure direction. ‘Night Drive Loneliness is a great example of this. The opening guitar draws you in, but the change in tone and with the bass and drums pushing it forward all has you craving more. While this may not be a single just yet, it really sure should be! It’s simple, but haunting and beautiful all at the same time.

Speaking of singles, the album’s first actual single, ‘Empty‘, is a great track with its large pop hooks, punchy drums, and driving synths. It’s also great for the fact that it could easily get radio time but that it’s not your traditional pop track. It has really dirty sound guitars, rocking drums and many effects that tie the band back to their origins.

The album opener, ‘Sometimes‘ is a very atmospheric, dark and quite different song to what some might be used to from the band. By being very minimalist, the song really draws you in. The lyrics appear to have a personal meaning of vulnerability and self-doubt, but before you can truly work out what’s happening the song ends. It draws you into its web and then spits you back out ready for the next song. Shirley Manson (vocals) sets a tone for ‘Sometimes‘ and the album right away with, “Sometimes I’d rather take a beating…I learn more when I am bleeding”. It’s not all that self-loathing, however, and the album goes through a number of peaks and troughs to give off the dynamic sound that many fans are craving for.

Even Though Our Love Is Doomed‘ is another song that’s been getting a lot of attention lately. With its dark, minimal instrumentation, it really showcases the band’s lyrics and melodies, making you think, ‘Wow, this band knows how to mix things up’. With the chorus, you can tell that Manson has a lot on her mind and wants everyone to know about it. “Even though our love is doomed, even though we’re all messed up, we’re still waiting for tomorrow, we’re still aching for tomorrow”. A haunting set of words, sure but the accompanying music makes for an ever grander soundscape to exist. It all builds to a dark, distorted climax that’ll have you grooving out to it and enjoying it so effortlessly.

Conclusion

Drawing from their traditional elements and mixing in some modern day vibes, Garbage has delivered a really well-rounded record here. ‘Strange Little Birds’ was recorded and produced between 2013-2015 and it’s easy to see and hear that a lot has gone into it. From big production moves and transitions, mixing real and virtual instruments and with all kinds of song arrangements, this would have been a hard task to undertake within two years. But will this record last the test of time? Probably not… but for now, it’s a great refreshment on the current state of the music industry. Whether it’s blasting in your car with the windows down, on the train with your headphones in, or on your stereo at home, it’ll really pull on your heart strings. Some bands find it difficult to evolve over time and stay current while remaining true to their origins, but Garbage, somehow, do it time and time again.

Tracklisting

1. Sometimes
2. Empty
3. Blackout
4. If I Lost You
5. Night Drive Loneliness
6. Even Though Our Love Is Doomed
7. Magnetized
8. We Never Tell
9. So We Can Stay Alive
10. Teaching Little Fingers To Play
11. Amends

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