Garbage Upgrades to Version 2.0

Garbage - Version 2.0
(Almo Sounds)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)

Story by Tony Bonyata

"I'm not like all of the other girls", declares Scottish-bred Shirley Manson, lead singer of the band Garbage, on their new album Version 2.0. And if she's referring to the likes of Alanis Morrisette, Sheryl Crow or Jewel she has a point. Instead of passively singing at her audience, Manson, with her passionate voice, seduces, teases and lures her listener closer to the edge.
With the help of Garbage band members and Madison, Wisconsin residents Duke Erikson, Steve Marker and drummer Butch Vig, who has produced albums for alternate rock heavyweights Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth and Nirvana, their latest effort has managed to live up to the high expectations that their strong, self-titled debut alt-rock album set for them two years ago.
While Version 2.0 doesn't take a drastic about face from their last recording it does show the band at least in search of different directions. On "Hammering In My Head" and "Dumb" the band has incorporated a chaotic, techno approach to their trademark sound. "Special" finds them blending in a smidgen of Beatle-esqe pop while Manson vocally pays homage to Chrissie Hynde from The Pretenders as she croons, "I thought you were special, ...but we're the talk of the town". Pure unadulterated power pop is the band's sound-du-jour on the irresistible "When I Grow Up".
Although Vig, Erikson, and Marker play an important part of Garbage's sound with their sonic disorder, it's Manson that steals the show with her sultry, intoxicating voice on "I Think I'm Paranoid" and "Sleep Together" where she boldly questions, "If we sleep together, will I like you better?".
Manson also manages to escape the lilting-flower vocals of the all the Lilith Fairies dominating the music scene today and instead pulls influences from the true innovators of modern female rock, Patti Smith, PJ Harvey as well as the aforementioned Chrissie Hynde. With the musical advances Garbage is making, however slight they may be, as well as Shirley Manson's tramp-next-door attitude and alluring voice this band proves that Version 2.0 is a worthwhile upgrade.

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