1995, Music

Garbage (1995)

As I have said way too many times, I do not like post grunge. Usually, post grunge takes something I like and basically ruins it. However, Garbage avoid many of the most irritating aspects of post grunge, if you can even classify Garbage as post grunge. (In fact, that false categorization may explain why I can tolerate them much more than just about any other post grunge band…)

Their songs are decent. Obviously they wrote a few catchy enough to become hits – sometimes bigger in the UK, which should come as no surprise – but the deep cuts are decently catchy, to compete with the three most famous songs here. (Five singles total, but I only remember three of them, personally.) The songs are mostly there.

Of course, the thing that really sets them apart from their contemporaries is the aesthetic. Someone mentioned a shoegaze influence and when I read that it was like a light-bulb went off. I don’t know why I’d missed that before, but I sure did. So, despite the fact that 3/4s of this band is an American rock band from the ’70s, there is definitely a bit of a shoegaze influence, especially on how the guitars sound. There’s also a tiny bit of a trip hop influence.

It’s all very slick, in comparison to much the alternative rock being made on either side of the Atlantic in the late ’80s and early ’90s, but I can’t deny that the fusion feels at least a little bit unique.

So much of that, though, has to do with Manson. First, there’s the fact that she’s a woman and there just weren’t a lot of women-fronted alternative rock bands combining contemporary American rock with shoegaze, trip hop and dance music, especially ones with hit songs. But then there’s her charisma, which is pretty essential to selling this music. I’m not sure this works with a less charismatic singer, or a male one, for that matter.

It’s not my thing, but I cannot deny that it works rather well. The record’s a little long though they smartly have some better material closer to the end. But it’s well made, it’s pretty unique, and it’s easy to understand why they were a big deal for a brief time.


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