Garbage is back and they're doing more of the same thing they've always been doing. Their new album, Bleed Like Me is a smattering of pop rock laced with 90s alternative rock nostalgia.
The rock is generally upbeat throughout the album, chugging along at perfect head-bob tempo 99% of the time. The instrumentation is competent and at times, ridiculously catchy(example: "Run Baby Run"). Shirley Manson's vocals haven't lost a bit of their edge over the years and hearing new, fresh, female-led rock is a pristine breathe of fresh spring air.
The album is standard Garbage- Melodic high-noted guitar licks, groovy guitars, and keyboards audible enough to be cool but scarce enough to not turn the album into "industrial"(please lets not hear from the section of the reading audience who believes industrial music died with Throbbing Gristle. I'm using the term because more people associate the word with a certain rock/synthesized sound). Garbage has evolved with the times, using new techniques to keep their music fresh and relevant(example: glitchy break in "Boys Want to Fight"), yet they seem as if they are barely putting marks in the mold they've put out for themselves. Whilst the album is head and shoulders above comparable pop-rock peers, it doesn't say much for their innovation. "It's All Over But the Crying" is the token slow song on the album and it does it's job well, mellowing the listener out before more energetic tracks emerge. It's an innovative track for Garbage, as it doesn't feature the lead guitar playing melody over every chorus.
Though the album is generally pleasing, the songwriting formula is sickeningly pop. Whereas a band of Garbage's magnitude should be "pushing boundaries", the album more or less "acknowledges the presence of boundaries." Bonus points to Garbage for the track "Metal Heart", which is a shining example of creativity. This is definitively the best track on the album in this reviewer's opinion, as the track's arrangement, effects, melody, and lyrics are spot on. It's experimental but has enough of a sense of normalcy so that it can never alienate the pop market. The track is contrasted by very run-of-the-mill tracks such as "Sex is not the Enemy" and "Why Don't You Come Over?." Now I'm not saying these tracks are particularly bad, but they just don't stand out.
Sure to please: Garbage fans, most people who were teens in the 90s.
Sure to disappoint: Nu-Metal fans, any fans who like ____-core styles, hip-hop junkies.