Third Album Short of Expectations
October 2, 2001 marked a sad day in the music world. On this fateful day, a relatively popular band named Garbage released their third album, Beautiful Garbage. It had been more than three years since the group released its last album, Version 2.0. What should have been a day of rejoicing quickly turned sour when I realized that Beautiful Garbage was horrible in comparison to past Garbage.
Not that Garbage didn’t have a lot to live up to; their debut album went platinum and garnered Garbage the title of “Best New Artist” from Rolling Stone. V 2.0 not only went platinum, but was also a Grammy nominee for “Best Album of 1998.” It was a rich tradition, one that implied promising new material from what could be one of the best bands of the late 90s.
The opening track “Shut Your Mouth” is actually a very Garbage-like track, and at first lifted my hopes that everything I had heard about the album was wrong, this really was going to be a rocking album. The guitars were hard, Shirley Manson (the lead singer) was caustic and strong, the lyrics were almost reminiscent of “I Think I’m Paranoid,” things were looking up. Then the next track started.
“Androgyny,” the second track, and the first single off the album, almost represents the band’s struggle between good music and bad pop music. The whole song sounds like Manson has suddenly turned into a bare-midriff teenage bopper without a care in the world. When the chorus hits, you can hear the old Garbage trying to come out, trying to say “We’re still angry, we’re still in control,” but the message is lost in the sugar-coating. The track has actually been growing on me, purely due to the fact that every time I listen to it, I keep telling myself that it’s Garbage and it’s supposed to be good. But it just isn’t.
If we had any doubts after “Androgyny,” they vaporize after listening to the next two tracks. “Can’t Cry These Tears Anymore” and “Til The Day I Die.” “Can’t Cry” sounds like a love song from the late 80s (with a small 90s flourish). I just don’t know how else I can describe it. “Til the Day That I Die” sounds like a remix of a Shania Twain song. That’s when it hits you; Garbage is dead.
After realizing this, one just resolves themselves to the rest of the album. “Cup Of Coffee” almost sounds like a standard Garbage slow song, but just lacks the mastery of classics like “You Look So Fine” and “The Trick Is To Keep Breathing.” “Silence Is Golden” wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t stuck on such a bad album. “Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go)” is just horrible. It may prove to be their most popular single off the album just because it’s so ... pop. If I couldn’t recognize Manson’s voice, I would have sworn it was by somebody else.
And so on it goes. On the second half of the album, only “Breaking Up the Girl” and “Parade” have significant redeeming value. The CD is enhanced, if that means anything to you, the extra being a feature that lets you play around with sound loops to make your own little remixes of some of the songs. If you think you’re into that sort of thing, go to <www.acidgarbage.com>, as the album isn’t worth buying just for that.
The album is a large disappointment, for this Garbage fan at least. It may very well do rather well due to the large audience there is for the kind of music you’ll find on Beautiful Garbage, but long time fans aren’t going to enjoy this album very much and are just going to have to pray that it will take less than three years for Garbage to find themselves again.