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Album Review
Strange Little Birds

Strange Little Birds
by Garbage


Review Date
30th June 2016
Reviewed by
Joel Greatbatch

One way to feel old? Reading that Garbage have a brand new album out TWENTY ONE years since their debut record came out back in 1995. Sheesh. I still remember getting home from high school and always seeing the ‘I’m Only Happy When It Rains’ video on Max TV. Time flies for one and all, and Garbage have recently spoken of a return to the start; of getting together to jam in Butch Vig’s basement like teenagers; to plumb their past for where they could go ahead. And looking at their back catalogue over the years where else can they go? They’ve done the grunge-tipped gloom anthems, trip hop pop, angular Aguilera adventures, so should they just do an acoustic or rap album and get it over with? Instead, Strange Little Birds is a conglomeration of all they’ve done, with some heavy industrial sound effects, stamping minor chord piano, smooth sounding rock guitar and some drum machines sneaking in to the complete the collective.

With three studio producers in one band you’re always in for some slick sounding pieces of recording, and here every track is immaculately mixed and mastered to their own sublime standards. But a good song is more than the men who mixed it. Strange Little Birds has its moments of both engaging pop hooks but some that if they weren’t basked in studio glory you might not give the time of day. And be prepared for some gloom and doom while you’re at it. Shirley Manson is either in the minds of others in difficult situations or she's got some serious teenage tinged issues to be addressed. The opening album lyrics are “Sometimes I'd rather take a beating” while foreboding industrial sounds wrap themselves around your ears. The highlights are more often from some cool guitar and bass parts where some of their old 90s rock vibes start reaching out to you. ‘If I Lost You’ stands out with its cool, calm collection and ‘Night Drive Loneliness’ is a journey on a dark country road with a slow Metallica riff keeping things creepy yet fun. But while there are no Strange Little Birds songs to be despised or thrown in the trash, they just can't be guaranteed to make a nest in you anytime soon.


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