Garbage - Strange Little Birds

By Stella Gardiner

Released Friday June 10th, 2016 - Liberator Music / Stunvolume

Get ready to jump in your time machine and head back to 1995, when eBay first launched, Batman Forever was released at the cinema and American-Scottish alt-rock band Garbage released their self-titled début album. 

Now fast forward to the present day and the release of Garbage’s sixth studio album Strange Little Birds.

Evoking the band's early Strange Little Birds is the second from their own label, STUNVOLUME.  Recording began in 2013, in drummer and co-producer Butch Vig’s basement where “There’s no sound proofing. It’s just four walls of drywall.”  This supposedly adds a sort of trashiness to the sound though you wouldn’t know it.  Production is raw but cohesive, a formula which can only really come from 20 years of experience.

The album opens with Sometimes, a dark melody with Shirley Manson’s haunting vocals giving way to the gritty industrial backing noise of her band.  But it isn’t until Empty that we really start to hear the Garbage of old. And by that I mean an echo of their post-grunge pre-YouTube trashy alt-rock noise.

The whole album is arranged like the passions of a moody teenager, from the slow and melancholic croon of Even Though Our Love is Gone to the grinding noise of Amends; we ride the emotional rollercoaster of youth.   

Blackout is genius. What starts out as a simple jam gradually transforms into an epic track, full of drama. Vig’s percussion coupled with the eighties electro synth and guitar baseline combo of Marker and Erkison sends shivers up the spine.

Manson refers to Strange Little Birds “Garbage’s most romantic album” but lets be clear, not in the Mariah Carey Christmas carol kind of way, I’m talking about a lusty heartfelt emotional kind of romantic that you only get from being miserable. Manson who is only happy when it rains confesses that she seeks power from darkness and it is clear from the get-go this is the only constant theme throughout.

Strange Little Birds is really all about going back to basics and recreating something worth listening to in this age of reality television music show competitions.