NOT YOUR KIND OF PEOPLE Garbage Stunvolume
FORMED in 1994, Garbage arrived as a brutal alternative rock band smashing electronica, punk, grunge, industrial rock and the occasional trip-hop elements into commercially viable anthems — a breath of fresh air amidst the ballad-driven pop/ R&B trend of the time dominated by the likes of Boyz II Men, Mariah Carey and Seal.
With songs like 1995’s Vow, opening with the venomous “I can’t use what I can’t abuse”, Garbage was the epitome of counter-culture cool, full of subversive attitude brought to life by drummer Butch Vig who produced Nirvana’s giant
Nevermind, guitarists Duke Erickson and Steve Marker topped with the fierce red headed Scottish front-woman Shirley Manson.
Not Your Kind Of People, its first release after a seven-year hiatus opens with the catchy Automatic System Habit which finds Manson coldly singing over a heavy keyboards and percussion foray. Fans of its earlier work like 1998’s album Version 2.0 may find this fifth album a watered down version.
Official British single Battle In Me proves however that they have not lost their confrontational, electro-rock credentials completely, with its exhilarating stop-start riffs, electric richness and Manson’s taunt style singing. They play on lush, astral effects on Felt which is a soothing moment on the record with Manson’s sinister spit of the lyrics “They’re only feelings, baby.”
Garbage still focuses on pain and darkness as the main theme but the formula feels like routine, tipping towards melodramatic as in the racy, guitar driven and obvious I Hate Love. There are good and not-so-pleasant surprises in this album, which suggests that the band that was once the answer to a much-needed alternative scene have now, become alternative to everything, for better or worse.
I’M WITH YOU
Red Hot Chili Peppers
AFTER nine albums, record sales boasting 50 million strong and a career spanning 30 years and counting, Los Angeles poster boys and punk-funk pioneers Red Hot Chili Peppers (RHCP) return with a 10th album, I’m With You, the first record without guitarist John Frusciante who is replaced by former tour understudy Josh Klinghoffer.
The change may bring about a more textural and less choppy sound but unlike its peers Coldplay, U2 or Metallica, RHCP has never strayed off far from its formula of funky riffs and singing about California, women and money.
Lead single The Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie is unmistakably them — sunny and funky with a generous serve of cowbells while Anthony Kiedis’ signature cheeky croons “Tick-tock I want to rock you like the 80s,” while Monarchy Of Roses is a grinding funk-rock track rich in reverb and tribal drumming.
While plainly explicit in meaning, which is unlike Kiedis’ layered art with words in the past, his penchant for evocative lyrics still shine through in Annie Wants A Baby, bound by Klinghoffer’s beautifully dark chords. Standout track include Ethiopia, a stoic piece with odd time signatures and mid-tempo funk alluding to some form of spirituality and peace.
Overall, I’m With You tows the fine and dangerous line between growing up and selling out and flirts recklessly with the two. It is an album that does not showcase radical new directions or musical revelations but functions more like an encore to their previous album, which even in RCHP’s standards is considered somewhat mediocre.