A little while ago I stopped by my baby mama’s house after work and still had my headphones from my new MP3 player hanging out of my shirt. Being 6 years old, her niece was really interested in this new mechanical device and insisted on listening to it. Being the nice uncle I am I obliged.
But I was left with a dilemma. What music did I have on my MP3 player that she would enjoy? I knew she was a fan of female singers like Ariana Grande, but I didn’t have anything like that on the gadget. If memory serves I only had 2 female fronted acts on my MP3 player at the time. One being The Pretty Reckless and the other being Garbage. I’m not sure Shirley Manson would make a perfect role model for a 6 year old, I’m sure she’s better than Taylor Momsen (and probably Ariana Grande, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and a plethora of other slut-pop superstars). I also figured she would like the melodies and message of songs like “When I Grow Up” and “Cherry Lips.” So I cued up Garbage and let her listen. She seemed to really enjoy it.
A few weeks later she asked to listen to my MP3 player again. I asked, “Oh, would you like to listen to Garbage again?” She looked at me as seriously as only a 6 year old can be and told me “I’m not allowed to listen to garbage.”
This gave me a good chuckle. Especially since her mother’s and my idea of garbage are sure to be very different.
I always wondered why Garbage wasn’t a bigger band than they were. But then I checked on Wikipedia and found out they were huge. I guess I was misled by the cheap ticket prices when I saw them at the House of Blues and their absence on rock radio. It also seems like their nestled somewhere between industrial, grunge and bubblegum pop, which is a very precarious place to be. But they have sold millions of albums and recorder the theme for a James Bond flick.
And they had a string of really, really great hits on their debut. “VOW” is one of my favorites. I’m so used to it being the opening track on Absolute Garbage that I can’t get into “Supervixen” (which is a good song, but has verses that are a little too quiet).
“Only Happy When It Rains” is a great upbeat rocker that makes it difficult to sit still. “Stupid Girl” uses some simple drums and guitar to maximum catchiness, and “Queer” is close to the top of my list of sexiest songs ever recorded.
And then a lot of the songs that I’ve never heard are just as awesome. “Not My Idea,” “Dog’s New Tricks” and “My Lover’s Box” rock just as hard as anything else on the album. It’s the kind of music you’d expect of a post-grunge project featuring the producer of Nevermind and Siamese Dream.
But some of it is filler. “As Heaven Is Wide” and “A Stroke of Luck” both rely a bit too much on drum machines and distorted guitar noise for my taste. For the life of me I can’t figure out why the album closer “Milk” was chosen as a single. I really don’t care for that song.
Of course, all the songs that I don’t like on this album are ballads; so maybe if you give it a spin yourself you’ll feel differently. It’s well worth a listen.
For more Platinum Anniversary Albums: