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April 24, 2014

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CD review: Garbage’s ‘Not Your Kind of People’

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The Details

Garbage
Not Your Kind of People
Three and a half stars

It has been seven years since Garbage’s last album, but on the new Not Your Kind of People, it sounds like no time has passed at all. That the album also manages to avoid sounding dated is a testament to how forward-thinking the band was in the 1990s with its dark, glossy mix of rock guitars and electronic beats. Album opener “Automatic Systematic Habit” seems like it might point to a more synth-driven style for the band, but the album quickly settles into the familiar Garbage sound, with Shirley Manson’s icy-cool vocals layered over thick riffs and pounding drums.

Manson is still exploring gloomier emotions in her lyrics (song titles include “I Hate Love” and “Beloved Freak”), but she doesn’t sound like she’s repeating herself. As the album title and corresponding track indicate, Manson is comfortable and proud in her position as a damaged outsider. It might be a stretch to say that the band has matured, but the songs definitely have an earned level of confidence.

Musically, the more intense, riff-driven songs succeed better than the slow, ethereal tracks, which sometimes sound a little wispy and insubstantial. “Blood for Poppies,” “Battle in Me” and “Man on a Wire” grab hold nearly as strongly as past hits like “Stupid Girl” or “I Think I’m Paranoid.” Not Your Kind of People will please alt-rock nostalgists hoping to hear something familiar, but it’s also a perfect introduction for anyone who missed Garbage the first time around.

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