I opened the morning meeting at work with a joke. Due to a coinciding release date, it had to do with somebody mistaking the band Garbage with the ordinary word used to describe Mariah Carey’s latest album. Unfortunately, Mariah somehow seems to keep selling albums though her record labels lose money, and the band with three über-producers and a red-headed rock siren slide steadily down the slippery slope of irrelevance. It’s an all too familiar story of bands signed to major labels, and we’ve heard it all before.
When Garbage broke onto the scene in 1995, they were a breath of fresh and exhilarating air, combining the best elements of electronic production, a variance between rocking and shoegazing guitars, and a growling sexy indie Scottish frontwoman. While I wouldn’t want to classify the band as a `novelty,’ they were indeed, novel. Sure, it had been done before, just not necessarily as well, nor as timely.
Fast forward past the more popular Version 2.0, the not as successful clone that was Beautiful Garbage, and we arrive ten years later to an album that almost didn’t make it. The band nearly called it quits, for all the reasons that bands normally do, before they took one last stab at making it work.
Bleed Like Me is, for all intents and purposes, mired in the mid-nineties, complete with a Dave Grohl guest appearance. I have to insert here that I don’t necessarily think that Bleed Like Me is a bad record, just the latest output from a group that has not progressed or evolved as much as it should have in a decade. “Bad Boyfriend” kicks the album off aggressively, with the trademark `Shirley as dominatrix, seducing the youth’ style. Then we hear one of the catchier songs on the album, “Run Baby Run.” The title track is even more indicative of their anachronistic stylings as it resembles later Red Hot Chili Peppers work, a band that lost their edge with a change of label, just at the time Garbage was getting started. Other reviews might compare it to Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side,” when actually it’s “Californication, pt.2.”
I want so much for Garbage to be relevant again. I want for Butch Vig to be able to prove he’s a viable producer in the 2000’s. I want Shirley Manson. Uh…I mean, I want for her to take the spotlight she so richly deserves. Manson is a magnetic performer whiling away her time with the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. Possibly, quite possibly, Bleed Like Me is the last warning shot before her storied solo career. Hell, with her accent, I’d buy a copy of her reading the phone book.
Red Hot Chili Peppers- Californication