The year was 1996, and I was sitting in the lounge of my college dorm watching Homicide: Life on the Street, when this song started to play. It was a sneering, sexy wash of electronic rock and it immediately caught my attention. That was my introduction to the band Garbage, and I’ve been a fan from that day forward. I have no idea if that story is completely true, but it sounds good so it’s the truth I’ll choose to believe in. 1996 was a long time ago, times, and tastes, change and Garbage has always seemed like a fragile creation. More a melding of studio elements than a true band. And it is true that it’s been seven years since their last release, the excellent Bleed Like Me. Now they’re back with Not Your Kind of People, but is it my kind of album? (tl;dr duh obviously)
From the opening track, the heavily electronic Automatic Systematic Habit, this an album of vintage Garbage. Shirley Manson snarls her way through the lyrics, and Butch Vig delivers his usual highly polished production values. As is usually the case for me, my favorite tracks are the high-energy, aggressive ones. Blood for Poppies is a swaggering blast that wouldn’t sound out of place on Version 2.0. I Hate Love is full of beeps and boops over driving beats. one of my favorite parts in the entire album comes on the frenetic The One when Manson sings “There must be someone/a robot, a terminator?” A not-so-subtle nod to her time spent on The Sarah Conner Chronicles. The ballads are all fine, and stack up nicely with other instances of the band’s softer side, but don’t grip me the same way the hard stuff does.
It makes me a little sad that it took so long to record Not Your Kind of People given how much I’ve enjoyed both it and Bleed Like Me. We were probably deprived of at least one other really good piece of music. On the bright side though, they did come together to record this worthy addition to the Garbage discography. And for that, fans of Garbage can rejoice.