Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rather Than First-Rate Garbage, 'Not Your Kind of People' Feels Disposable -- Album Review

Album Review

Not Your Kind of People

Although I have found it less than essential, I do not mean to trash, nor bag on, the first new album from Garbage in seven years.

I've been a big fan of the Madison, WI foursome since their 1995 debut album--which I rank among the 20 best albums of the '90s--and have enjoyed, to varying extents, all four of their past studio albums. They've also been great when I've seen them live. 

And back in the day, when Tower Records still existed, I stood in line to have them sign their second CD and found them to be--contrary to the title of their latest album--very much my kind of people.

Friendly, down to earth, humble. And I don't just mean Butch Vig, Steve Marker and Duke Erikson--star producers and journeyman musicians who struck gold when they formed a band and recruited Shirley Manson from Scotland to be their singer. Despite a persona that's brash and outspoken, Shirley herself was lovely as can be.

So it gives me no pleasure to suggest that this album will likely wind up on the scrap heap of history. With rather little else I've musically loved of late, I've been very much looking forward to a fresh batch of Garbage, especially having noted on Facebook how excited Shirley was once the new songs were in the can.

But while it certainly doesn't live down to the band's name, there is little here that outshines Garbage's previous output. With enough listens, the disc has become pleasurable enough as background music, and the band's trademark variety of sonic textures remains apparent & appealing, but I don't foresee Absolute Garbage--their 2007 greatest hits album--needing to be reissued with many songs from Not Your Kind of People.

The album starts solidly, with "Automatic System Habit," "Big Bright World" and lead single "Blood for Poppies," adequately reminding of, candidly, better songs they've written before--but also why I love Garbage. Yet by about the 6th or 7th track, the satisfying-but-short-of-superb consistency starts to wane, and the 15-song deluxe version of the album especially tends to drag.

As always with Garbage, I can tell that this is a record made with integrity. The group is good at what they do, and it's certainly no crime if their best happens to be behind them. I wouldn't dissuade anyone from buying this album, but both existing and prospective fans will likely find far greater pleasure in the debut and greatest hits.

For while this isn't a collection of throwaway songs, and far from junk, Not Your Kind of People just feels rather disposable.

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