The Chemicals – a review

orig-21265987As part of my on-going blogging revolving around the alt-rock band Garbage, I decided to write a little review of their most recent release, the Record Store Day exclusive ‘The Chemicals’ a collaboration with Silver Sun Pickup’s singer Bryan Aubert.  It was initially released on April 18 on a vinyl single alongside the b-side ‘On Fire’.  Certainly a very exciting day for Garbage fans world-wide as this was leading up to their recently announced 20 Years Queer tour as well as their much anticipated sixth album, scheduled for release at the end of 2015 / beginning of 2016.  The single is also out on iTunes on 02 June.

The Chemicals

Garbage_The_ChemicalsSince its release, I’ve played this track and re-played it and couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t hitting me like other classics from this imaginative and multi-talented band. Then one night, after not listening to the track for a while, I gave it another go.

I certainly love the start, that electronic beat with a rumbling, distant explosion effect … very ‘them’ and announced this track as a band certainly not losing their touch. The guitars that follow also build excitement and as momentum increases, singer Shirley Manson’s haunting, heavily-processed (?) vocals kick in. The iconic Scottish-born singer sounds authoritive and rather seductive. The lyrics are also effective, with a myriad of layered meanings that I can’t say I understand but still appreciate like in many of Garbage’s more complex song writing (‘Hammering In My Head’ comes to mind).  As the track progresses we’re hit with an assault of heavy beats and intensely delivered ‘I need your heaven’, which at first overwhelms, yet with further thought, does create a powerful feeling that perfectly slips into the extended, down-beat and hypnotic ‘The Chemicals’. This part acts more like an instrumental than a conventional chorus with varying ways the title is repeated along with the gradual power of guitars and drums. In these segments that we get twice, Bryan Auburt’s voice certainly brings an extra layer to the song, giving the listener things to notice only after repeat plays.  Also that ending, as the title is repeated then quits and we get the guitars strumming and the beats and the heavy riffs until … nothing, Wow.

I’d call this Garbage developing their signature-sound for a modern era. Their last album ‘Not Your Kind Of People’ blended old and some new but felt mostly familiar (not a bad thing).  However as we’ve heard with ‘Girls Talk Shit’ and The Chemicals’ equally layered B-Side ‘On Fire’, new Garbage; delivered with an echo of the past but with a strong vibe of something the band haven’t majorly explored before, isn’t as scary as I initially thought.  I can’t say I totally love it now, but have started to appreciate the track a lot more now that I’ve got my head around Garbage’s new approach and wealth of ideas at play.

On a side note, as interesting a concept as the video is, I think it’s overly intense style and setting does the song a slight disservice.  For me, The Chemicals works best without any visual accompaniment.


Hi folks.  A quick update to say I haven’t vanished.  Not a great deal of movie watching going on right now but planning on rectifying that soon. Been catching up on the rather brilliant TV series ‘True Detective’ after a friend borrowed me the DVD box set, and also watching Breaking Bad for the second time following getting the Blu-ray set for Christmas.


Other than that playing and trying to finish various games.  The Evil Within has ramped up it’s difficulty from hard to bastard-hard of late, so struggling a bit with that one, and Assassin’s Creed Unity is well, mammoth so still playing that and making progress bit by bit.  Wonderful, underrated game though in my opinion with such beautifully detailed graphics and atmosphere.

Work has been particularly busy, with a lot still to do and well, catching up from having a week off at the beginning of January is always difficult … and I still have plenty of holiday left to take before April.

Another friend has borrowed me the Simon Pegg / Nick Frost comedy The World Ends, which I’ve heard nothing but mixed views on, so will probably check that out soon.  Also the Alex Garland sci-fi drama Ex_Machina has just come out so would like to go and see that at some stage.

I’m also excited this year as it’s going to be pretty special for my favourite band Garbage and singer Shirley Manson.  They have two brand new tracks planned for Record Store Day in April, as well as a whole new album at some stage … and 2015 also marks the 20th anniversary of their debut album, which they are planning to re-release as well.


Well, that’s all from me for now.  Reviews and what not coming soon.

Off topic: Garbage new material


Sort of a follow up to my earlier post regarding Garbage’s new releases to mark Record Store Day.  Well today marked the release of these two tracks on iTunes, consisting of the collaboration with former Distiller’s singer Brody Dalle for ‘Girls Talk Shit’ and then the more instrumental, previously tour-opening / closing ‘Time Will Destroy Everything’.

Well I thought I’d finally offer up my opinion of these two tracks, as a long term fan of this band, starting with the first track.

The collaboration with Brody Dalle starts off with a haunting guitar / playful mixing combination that sounds distinctly ‘Garbage’.  Scottish front woman Shirley Manson’s lyrics again catch your attention as soon as they appear, even if her voice sounds more eerie and floaty, the singer again showcasing subtle variations, as seen in the band’s other releases over the years.  She continues to sound great.  The chorus also is very catchy, edgy and strong – ‘girls talk shit and make no bones about it’ delivered with real attitude.  When Dalle turns up, her very different, throaty tone is jarring at first but welcome and she suits the song’s edgier feel.  The only slight difficulty I have with this track is Brody’s screaming lyrics, bringing a fierce grunge style to Garbage’s sound that hasn’t been heard before – and for me, takes some getting used to.  However this remains an affective, loud and pounding track that builds in ferocity as it reaches it conclusion.  Again Garbage doing what they do best – surprising us.

The second track is Garbage returning to (slightly) more familiar territory, even if the electronica-heavy vibe isn’t usually as prominent … this feels like a Chemical Brothers track, and has distorted, heavily mixed vocals from Shirley that are sometimes hard to hear over the admittedly block rockin’ beats … the sound is very powerful and the synthesized ‘time will destroy everything’ lingered in my head.  I felt there were at times too many sounds and effects going on here … something the band can get a little carried away with … but I still enjoyed this as a total polar opposite to the other track and for it’s full on in your face lack of restraint.  It feels a bit more ‘experimental’ than Girls Talk… but still pretty cool.

As we saw last year with Garbage’s collaboration with The Screaming Females on ‘Because The Night’ the band aren’t afraid to try new sounds and new approaches to their output, and this release felt like the band really exploring and delivering something maybe the fans might not have been expecting, but again ending up with a professional and brilliantly produced piece of work.

Exciting times I’d say to be a fan of this band.  You can see the official video for ‘Girls Talk Shit’ below…

Off topic: Garbage record store day


Yesterday (April 19th) marked the annual Record Store Day event where across the globe traditional record stores sell limited edition vinyl releases, often limited to a short supply to an army of hardcore fans.  My favourite band, Garbage marked this day by collaborating with singer Brody Dalle (below, right) on ‘Girls Talk Shit’ along with their own track, ‘Time Will Destroy Everything’, which has previously only been used as an intro (and outro) track to their recent world tour.  I personally am very eager to get my hands on these tracks but don’t have a record store near me where they will be sold (or er, have a turntable).  So like last year’s release of ‘Because The Night’ with The Screaming Females, I hope we see an I-tunes release in the near future – and maybe a music video?  That’d be cool.