Everything that made Garbage great from its inception in the ’90s, remains on the electro rock quartet’s first release in seven years.
That means that superwoman singer Shirley Manson is still capable of pivoting from a menacing whisper to a pained wail in the space of a single bar and the band’s seamless stitching together of electronic blurts, rock ’n’ roll attitude, and pop craftsmanship is still the core mission.
When all of it works in perfect synch, the record hits a sweet spot that is both nostalgic and completely contemporary, illuminating how forward-looking the cross-continental collaborators were at their peak.
Highs include the fuzzy, zippy future blues of “Control,” the whiz-bang bite and forward momentum of “Automatic Systematic Habit,” the dusty, almost warped western-sounding title track, and the heartwarming album closer, “Beloved Freak.”
Manson remains a fierce frontwoman, but age and the group’s no pressure approach to crafting “Not Your Kind” lends her vocals a much looser feel than previous outings. She still shows a wide range of emotion — whether sneering down liars in a rage or delicately examining feelings of alienation — there is less clenching in the sound without any sacrifice in the sonic wallop.
If only a few tracks attain the infectious highs and moody captivation of predecessors like “Vow” and “Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!),” the group makes a valiant attempt. (Out Tuesday)
Garbage plays the Paradise on May 26