When you’re a band with the previous alt-rock success that Garbage had in the 1990’s, and you haven’t released an album in seven years, said record should probably be considered a “comeback” album. That means you should probably do something inventive (or RE-inventive), something that grabs people’s attention, and says, very clearly, “WE ARE BACK.”
With Not Your Kind of People, apparently Garbage failed to get that memo.
Granted, the problem isn’t that the record is bad; it’s not. If you’re a fan of dark 90’s alt-rock with an electronic/industrial edge, Garbage is still the band for you, and this record has all that you’d expect. From the blistering opener “Automatic Systematic Habit” to the angst-ridden, electronic dissonance on “I Hate Love” to the whispered melancholy of “Sugar”, this album drips with all the grit, grime and negativity you’d expect from a band named after trash. And no one delivers on this better than frontwoman Shirley Manson, back fresh from a brief acting stint as a terminator in the short-lived TV series Sarah Connor Chronicles.
But here’s the problem: this is the 2000-teens, not the 1990’s. Sonically and thematically, we’ve moved on, or at least found more current ways to express our angst. And while Not Your Kind of People is admittedly updated a little bit in its sound, Garbage acts overall as though they’ve picked up right where they left off, like the last seven years didn’t really happen. In short, there’s really nothing new here—and certainly no material that matches prior hits like “Stupid Girl,” “Only Happy When It Rains” and “Vow.” Perhaps most surprising is that this record is the first self-released project from Garbage, under its own label. You’d think as an indie band, these guys would do something different than their previous label efforts.
In short, what’s happened here is that Garbage has not said, “WE ARE BACK” with this album; instead, they’ve said “WE’RE STILL HERE.” And while Not Your Kind of People is certain to please their existing fans who have been waiting for new material from the band, it’s not likely to attract any new ones.
Simply put, it’s the same old Garbage. (Like you didn’t see that one coming…)
ALBUM RATING: 3 Stars (out of five)