red lights


Form(ula) over function


Garbage - Bleed Like Me
(Geffen Records)
2 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: May 12, 2005

Review by Tony Bonyata

After ten years, three album and one break-up the Madison, WI-based band Garbage are up to their old tricks with their fourth full-length album entitled Bleed Like Me, an effort which tries extremely hard to recapture some of the magic of their earlier years.
Led by the seductive vocals of Scottish singer Shirley Manson and backed by guitarists Steve Marker and Duke Erikson along with drummer/ producer Butch Vig (a star in his own right, who produced iconic alternative rock albums such as Nirvana's Nevermind and Smashing Pumpkins' Siamese Dream) the quartet forages through the guitar-driven, electro-shock therapy rock that fueled both their 1995 self-titled debut and their equally strong follow-up effort Version 2.0. But what sounded fresh a decade ago now comes off as a band sounding like they're trying just a little too hard.
The album starts off admirably enough, with Manson purring in-heat (with nods to Blondie's Debbie Harry) over a menacing guitar line on the opening track "Bad Boyfriend."  Adding even more punch to the number, Vig has enlisted musical compatriot Nirvana drummer-turned-Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl to help out on the skins. On their first single from the album "Why Do You Love Me" Garbage follows suit with a punchy rock number peppered with a gimmicky guitar riff oozing with faux-Led Zeppelin bravado. When the foursome continues on "Right Between The Eyes" and "Sex Is Not The Enemy" (the latter sounding like early alt-rock contemporaries The Breeders) it soon becomes all too clear that they're more interested in tapping into their own previous successful formula, rather than taking their music to new plateaus.
There are moments where Garbage stretches their creative wings, such as the electro-pop of "Boys Wanna Fight" and the more introspective "It's All Over But The Crying" and "Metal Heart," where Manson seemingly channels the lilting voice of Kate Bush. But in the end this collection sounds like rehashed pop with the obligatory amount of electro-trickery and self-admiring flexed guitar riffs.
Maybe Manson's proclamation best sums up not only this album, but the state of her band as she cries, "No evolution, sometimes it depresses me. The same old same. Oh we keep repeating history." And, considering the original promise of this band, it depresses me too.

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