After a seven-year hiatus, Shirley Manson and co are back with a new album. This pleases me, a long-time Garbage fan, rather a lot – they were the first band I really got into when I was a teenager, so they’ll always hold a special place in my heart. I will admit as much as the next person though that their last two efforts were rather disappointing, so I was interested to hear Not Your Kind of People to see if it was a return to form.
The record sees Garbage go back to their roots with a rockier sound such as that of their self-titled debut. Automatic Systematic Habit is a fantastic start, Manson in brilliantly angry form, snarling ‘I won’t be your dirty little secret’ at a lying womaniser. There are plenty of upbeat numbers here, including Blood for Poppies, which was the band’s first single in the US and is the catchiest song on the record – a standout track for sure. Amongst the poppier songs, another highlight is I Hate Love, in which Shirley shows she hasn’t lost her knack for writing blunt, honest lyrics that really hit home.
The darkness that permeated Garbage’s previous albums certainly hasn’t gone, and the downtempo tracks work well, too. Sugar is especially melancholy, Manson’s muted, breathy vocals capturing feelings of loneliness and vulnerability perfectly, and the title track is an excellent slow, proggy number that ties up the themes on the album – which Garbage have stated is a record for outsiders. Closer Beloved Freak continues this theme lyrically as well as containing a similar vibe musically. Indeed, the album in general is an affirmation that being different can only be seen as a good thing, (“It’s about saying it’s okay to be weird”, as Shirley puts it), and as a band with a unique sound that have always ploughed their own path, this is very fitting.
Not Your Kind of People isn’t as immediate as Garbage’s first two records, but after a few plays it really starts to sink in and come together as a very good album indeed – certainly the band’s best since Version 2.0. Okay, so there’s no new Stupid Girl or When I Grow Up here, but it’s still full of great tunes, interesting themes, clever lyrics, and it will please fans – even if it may be unlikely to win new ones.