Album Review: Garbage – Strange Little Birds
Electronica certainly seems to be the go-to genre to test drive if you are an artist these days. Regardless of whether you are a pop, rock, punk or even an act of the heavier persuasion, electronica will provide a cool injection into a new release if you are one of the many seasoned acts dishing up new albums these days. It’s a pool that rock heavyweights Garbage have dipped their toes into with the band’s latest and 6th studio release, Strange Little Birds.
Teased by recently released and lead single Empty, Shirley Manson and co have dived head first into the electronic spring and dished up a pretty flawless new collection as they celebrate 20 years as one of rock music’s most influential and unpredictable forces.
The Stupid Girl and Only Happy When It Rains hit makers last provided fans with a new record to add to their collections back in 2012 with Not Your Kind Of People but time has certainly been a friend to the band whose latest studio effort unleashes a track-listing bursting with some of the best material the band have ever produced.
Lead single Empty delivers a solid, crunchy guitar-dominated intro for the record which wouldn’t sound out of place on any of the bands previous records but with a slightly futuristic dressing that makes it a very relevant rock staple. It’s a head-pounding, guitar thrash-fest and one of the finest single releases from the band since the days of Version 2.0.
Teaching Little Fingers To Play acts as one of the more laid-back options on Strange Little Fingers. It’s the Milk or the You Look So Fine of Strange Little Birds; a slow-jam that compliments the new record with its casual unfurling and minimalist instrumentation around an album plentiful in guitar-heavy centrepieces.
The bands sombre side rears its head on the gritty If I Lost You. Manson’s dreamily delivered chorus pulsates along with the melancholic tone of this one; an abrasive template of bass and static with the occasional digital effect playfully encouraging the singers soulful vocal as she sings bittersweet lines like “but I’ve never had someone like you /who makes me feel the way you do / Sometimes I believe that I might die if I lost you”. If I Lost You is easily one of the highlights of Strange Little Birds; if not for its openly desperate lyricism then for its virtuous instrumentation.
Sometimes is another stellar gem to be found on the new record. The arrangement alone makes this one really shine brightly within Strange Little Birds; the twisting, computerized bass that forms the tracks industrialized hook offers Manson a chilling backbone to lay down her raw and casually dressed vocal.
Albums inclusions like We Never Tell and Blackout fall into familiar Garbage territory and would be the types of tracks that part-time listeners of the bands material would expect to hear from a new offering from the quartet; both tracks sounding quite similar to the bands Version 2.0 or Not Your Kind of People efforts; the former tracks “ahhh ahhh ahhh” backing vocals sounding like it could be Special’s long lost half sister.
The band effortlessly seam the old and the new together on So We Can Stay Alive; a reverberating electronic stitch running through the ballsy rock monster. Wailing guitars and an energetic drum beat gives Manson something to dig her teeth into, but its her bands immaculate instrumental skills that make this scorcher a torch that burns brightly for itself on the new collection.
Strange Little Birds offers a hell of a lot to fans who have been patiently waiting for new material from the Scottish/American masters of rock since the bands last studio record of 2012. There are more potential singles contained within the 11 tracks featured here than you can poke a rusty pole at. The outift offer fans something a little different on Strange Little Birds: powerful rock blueprint with a modern electronic furnishing that ensures the bands relevance in today’s every changing musical landscape.
It may be premature to say at such an early stage of the release of Strange Little Birds but, hell, I’m just going to anyway: Strange Little Birds is quite possibly Garbage’s finest work since that immaculate self-titled debut of 1995. The record is tied together tighter than anything the band have produced since that debut. Its a genre-blending orgy or rock, pop and electronica that dresses some of the finest pennings the band have constructed in the last 20 years. Welcome back Garbage – we have missed you immensely!!!