GARBAGE, "BLEED LIKE ME" (GEFFEN) ***
Garbage has never been the most original band: Its mix of shoegazer
atmosphere, New Wave hooks and gothic melodrama has always seemed like a
deft studio concoction, which indeed it was, stemming from '90s alt-rock
super producer Butch Vig (Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana) and his Smart Studio
mates recruiting a sexy front woman in Shirley Manson and deftly cashing in
with the modern-rock radio-friendly sound of their debut, released at the
tail end of the alternative era in 1995.
The group has continued to churn out effective if never particularly
original sounds (think Blondie meets mid-'80s Cure) ever since, though it's
been far from prolific: This is only the fourth Garbage album, and the first
since 2001's "Beautifulgarbage." And it hasn't been a particularly easy
ride: Vig reportedly quit the group at the start of this recording, then
returned a few months later.
For all of that, Garbage continues to offer modest pleasures for fans of
rollicking pop-rock, and this is its catchiest and most consistent set since
the debut. You can virtually hear Manson's sneer on driving rockers such as
"Bad Boyfriend" and "Right Between the Eyes," and the title track is a
welcome bit of quieter, mid-tempo melancholy that stands as the best song
the group has ever produced.