Garbage Comes Back Strong With ‘Bleed Like Me’

El Vaquero Staff Writer

Garbage is back and has, to some extent, evolved, leaving behind the sound that made their music a staple of the ’90s. “Bleed Like Me,” the follow-up to their 2001 release “Beautifulgarbage,” hopes to elevate Garbage once again to mass success.

2001 proved to be a dreadful year for Garbage. “Beautifulgarbage” was a commercial flop; front woman Shirley Manson lost her voice as result of a cyst on her vocal chord, which had to be surgically removed, and drummer/chief mastermind of Garbage, Butch Vig was diagnosed with a serious case of Type A hepatitis.

These ups and downs led to a temporary break-up which ultimately resulted in the creation of “Bleed Like Me,” the band’s fourth studio album, which ventures off into a more distant realm of heavier guitar riffs, drums, and sadistic lyrics that characterize love as being a big pain in the butt.

On this album Manson sings about anorexia, masochism, self- mutilation and suicide. They are twisted themes that hit close to home for Manson, who openly admits to having dealt with such traumas in the past. Among other things, Manson also sings about bitter break-ups and relationships, which correlate with the separation from her husband in 2001.

With emotionally charged lyrics like these, “Bleed” could do for Garbage what “Tragic Kingdom” did for No Doubt in 1995. It might not only catapult them to the top, once again, but it could also result in a serious backlash if Garbage decides to get creative and dive into uncharted musical territory yet again.

If “Beautifulgarbage” did not mark the end of Garbage in 2001, “Beautifulgarbage” part two will certainly do the trick.
The intensity on this album is somewhat similar to past Garbage recordings, the only exception being that one would have to multiply this intensity by two.

Garbage produced every track on this album except for “Bad Boyfriend,” which was the work of John King, one half of the famed producing duo, The Dust Brothers, who have worked with such acts as Beck, The Beastie Boys and The Rolling Stones.

The opening track, “Bad Boyfriend,” explodes with heavy guitars and even heavier drums. Foo Fighter and former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl supplies beats that can leave the listener quite disappointed that his drumming skills were not acquired for other tracks on the album.
If one ever had a doubt whether or not Manson has really been feeling frustrated with life as of late, “Why Do You Love Me?,” does a great job of answering this question. Manson’s frustrations are stated very clearly with lyrics like, “Now I’ve held back a wealth of shit/I think I’m gonna choke/I’m standing in the shadows with the words stuck in my throat.”

Manson has not denied the separation from her husband, but lyrics like “I think you’re sleeping with a friend of mine/I have no proof but I think I’m right” give the listener some insight as to why Manson’s marriage failed.

Of the 11 tracks on the album, “Why Do You Love Me?” is certainly the one that stands out the most. This track is one of the few throwbacks to past Garbage recordings that was able to capture the essence of Garbage during the ’90s when they were at the peak of their musical career.

The title track, “Bleed Like Me,” is one of the tamer songs on the album; however, the extra sound affects and the rhythmic bass line throughout the song make it a little more rough on the edges, despite its melancholy tone.

Lyrics like “Avalanche is sullen and too thin/She starves herself to rid herself of sin/And the kick is so divine when she sees bones beneath her skin” paint a much too vivid picture that can be rather disturbing at times.

Manson’s repetition of “You should see my scars” toward the end of song come across as a cry for help that is not only evident on this track, but all throughout the album.

If over-producing an album were punishable by law, Garbage would be guilty as charged. Of course, over-production would be somewhat unavoidable for Garbage seeing that prior to forming the band, four members of were producing top-notch bands, like Nirvana, Sonic Youth and The Smashing Pumpkins in Vig’s case.

The phrase, “less is more” comes to mind when listening to the album. A little bit more guitar and bass at times as opposed to distorted sound bites would have definitely gone a long way.

Luckily, these sounds and pristine over-production do not necessarily get in the way of actually enjoying the album. Do not expect to love the record right off the bat, unless you are a hardcore Garbage fan who was anxiously awaiting new material. Patience is a virtue, and unless you give this album a chance to grow on you, you will miss out on a true gem.

This album offers a good balance between the easy listening tracks and the edgier, please-turn-down-the-volume- type of songs.

Garbage does an excellent job redeeming themselves from their last album. Although this album is not necessarily what most Garbage fans would expect, it does do a good job of sporadically capturing the Garbage-esque sound of the ’90s and incorporating it with something new and more intense, both musically and lyrically.

Rating: * * * (out of 4)