Garbage - Strange Little Birds - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Garbage - Strange Little Birds

by James Weiskittel Rating:8 Release Date:2016-06-10

The brilliance of Garbage lies in the way that, despite a shotgun-wedding style formation that coupled three producer types (Duke Erikson, Steve Marker, and heavy-weight Butch Vig) and a Scottish transplant (the dazzling Shirley Manson), they have somehow managed to eschew the all-too-probable ‘too many cooks’ syndrome throughout their career.  In fact, With a surprisingly poignant debut, a flawless sophomore effort (Version 2.0), and a brazenly adventurous third album (Beautiful Garbage), the first real misstep for the studio-supergroup was their half-hearted hiatus following the disappointing reception for their underrated fourth album Bleed Like Me.  

And so, when rumblings and rumors finally beget the band’s 2012 comeback release Not Your Kind of People, longtime fans rejoiced as Garbage was back.  And while ‘People featured a layered, lush production that saw the already-studio friendly band embracing every trick in the book, their soon to be released sixth album, Strange Little Birds finds the band embracing the rawer, more emotional Garbage.

While the green mist and contorted leopard-print capital ‘G’ that adorn the album cover may suggest something to the contrary, Strange Little Birds is a dark, focused album that revisits the more amped up sound that the band explored on Bleed Like Me.  Any forays into the lush, pop territory that they may have been guilty of in the past are nowhere to be found here.  Which isn’t to say that Garbage-lite is a bad thing, as some of their best moments have come via Manson’s processed croon, but the true power of this band lies in their ability to combine that gentle, lush sensibility with moments of ugly, fuzzed out synth-rock.

Strange Little Birds opens with an ominous piano motif (“Sometimes”) and sultry vocal from Manson before exploding into the arena-ready “Empty”, a confident little romp that shows the band still has some teeth.  The album’s third track, the six-minute-plus “Blackout” is where the album really hits it’s stride, displaying a prog-tinged ambition that is somewhat new territory for the band.  In fact, the one unifying element of Strange Little Birds would be that the songs function best when viewed as a collective whole.  The record is a dark, focused, rocked-out epic of an album that should leave any long-time fan elated.  The album closer “Amends” is simply one of the best things the band has ever recorded.

Six albums in, Garbage seems to have made peace with the fact that they are pretty much making new music for their fan base alone, as evidenced by the sweeping, cinematic nature of Strange Little Birds.  For anyone who has stuck around this long, Strange Little Birds should be a welcome addition from a band that is no longer concerned with maintaining their status as yesteryear’s darlings.  


Comments (3)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Never did get the Garbage enigma. Overrated is my lasting impression but I admire that you're making a case for it.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Appreciate that Rob. I think any 90's band this far in gets, at the very least, a legacy nod as far as I'm concerned.

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Garbage spent a career UNDERrated, but they never captured the sexy depressive danger of the first 2. Here's to the Birds..

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