(updated 24/06/2016) After a long wait the one album I have been looking forward to for the last few years has finally landed. Yes ladies and gentlemen my favourite band Garbage are back … and could this be one of the best things they have ever created? Let’s see…
After extensive play over the last two weeks I can confidently say this is a particularly polished, quality album from the alt-rock pioneers who first made waves back in 1995. 21 years later and Garbage have still got it, even to the point of further developing their sound to create something with a well defined mood through the whole album, which I feel the band hasn’t totally nailed in years. Strange Little Birds tells a story of obsession, jealousy, regret and eventually hope. It’s really quite powerful. Personal highlights include the sublime rock-ballad ‘Night Drive Loneliness’, the powerhouse anthem ‘So We Can Stay Alive’, moody stadium rocker ‘Blackout’, and the heart-breaking ‘Even Though Our Love Is Doomed’ – but really I like every track and I haven’t felt that way since Version 2.0. ‘Sometimes’ whilst possibly my least go-to track, is still a perfectly ominous opening and powerfully introduces ‘Empty’, which is the most radio-friendly track at least as far as today’s radio songs go. Yet there’s a lot of potential here for singles; Night Drive being an obvious one as well as ‘If I lost You’ with it’s decidedly Madonna-like chorus. I also really enjoy the slightly trippy vibe to ‘Teaching Little Fingers To Play’. I should also add the closing, suitably epic ‘Amends’ makes me think of a moody western about a woman seeking redemption.
‘Magnetized’ is possibly the only track on the album I don’t totally enjoy … but I still like aspects of it. Also the subjects explored, despite best intentions are not exactly new ground for this band. However it’s the delivery and the craft that impresses most. It’s also an album that left me wanting more … no bad thing, but I’d have loved a couple more tracks than the 11 we get here. So overall, stellar work from Shirley Manson and her band mates; musicians & producers Butch Vig, Steve Marker and Duke Erikson. You’ve proved the nay-sayers rather foolish indeed and have delivered some of the best work of your career. I’d say Strange Little Birds will surprise a lot of people, critics especially, and in this homogenized, cookie-cutter musical landscape we find ourselves in – that’s a very good thing indeed.
Verdict: 4 /5