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Garbage - No Gods No Masters (Infectious Music)

24 June 2021

Garbage are a band that has persevered. Whilst many of their contemporaries suffer splits, break ups and those lineup changes, this is a band who have not let emotions get in the way of creativity. Now, they have released album number seven, after a span of twenty-six years since that explosive debut, we find the band still reaching, and exploring avenues as they evolve gracefully. No Gods No Masters is an album that reeks of reality, our socially charged atmosphere. Perhaps this is their most immersive political statement, but it is fueled by this world we find ourselves within, an earth clinging desperately to it’s axis before it spins out of control. 

Many in the past week have stated this is the Garbage ‘return to form’ album. Going further in that it is their finest in two decades, I find that slightly unfair on the steadfast quartet of Shirley Manson, Duke Erikson, Steve Marker and Butch Vig. In reality the group have released only four albums in between a hiatus. Since 2001’s Beautiful Garbage, of those only Bleed Like Me (2005) received mixed reviews due to an admitant lack of direction. But the band came back strong with the two energetic crackers Not Your Kind of People and Strange Little Birds. So in reality it is easier to say No Gods No Masters is another show of consistency, and strength from the band. 

The fact that No Gods No Masters has political fuel lighting the incendiary sound is not a surprise. In the last eighteen months the world has seen enough upheaval and unrest to last the rest of the century, but make no mistake, Garbage is saying in the language of art, what we are all thinking, and this is certainly music for our times. Opening powerfully with “The Men Who Rule the World”. The sound of slot machines fuse with beats and electronic noise, giving way to the quakes of guitars. Here, Shirley’s vocals are going in and out of phase, and literally take no prisoners “The men who rule the world, have made a fuckin’ mess”. This is the overture of the album, laying out their trajectory, and this continues into “The Creeps”. Though here audiences get the more punk nouveau side of the band, where they open up fully and let fly.

Thematically, there is a lot to unpack from the opening tracks. This continues into “Uncomfortably Me”, where the industrial crack reverberates through the speakers. Here Shirley adds a sweetness to the lyrics, surprisingly they examine the image presented of a star and the truthful aspect of being human, away from the limelight. But we lift again into venomous waters with “Wolves”, and then fall again with the reflective, religious questioning “Waiting for God”. This twists into the angst driven “Godhead”, with it’s singalong chorus, that soars from the menacing delivery. This is where Garbage are at their very best, combining electronic and organic instruments, and going into it full tilt and fearlessly.

The cinematic “A Woman Destroyed” starts with an intense drama. Broken love is investigated fully, as is the vengeance, and whomever this is directed at will never have peace. In an unexpected turn, “Flipping the Bird” is straight out of the early-eighties, as if something New Order should have released. With it’s synth melodies and heavy bass lines, it is as captivating as you will get, and something that continues into the hypnotic title track. It is an exceptional listen, something that pulses with energy and also a welcomed positivity. This subsides into the lush, slow burning “This City Will Kill You”. Personally I feel it contains the best vocal on the album, one which somersaults sweetly against a wall of sound. The fact Shirley Manson wrote the lyrics for this album in 2019, and finished in March 2020, shows how that creative needle is truly in the vein of society. Her lyrics are so ‘now’, so intense, that they resonate or even act as a soundtrack to our current emotions. There is absolutely no sugar coating here, it is direct, in your face realism. That is what Garbage does, and hopefully continues to, and No Gods No Masters is an album that will live on after 2021. 

1. The Men Who Rule the World
2. The Creeps
3. Uncomfortably Me
4. Wolves
5. Anonymous XXX
6. Waiting for God
7. Godhead
8. A Woman Destroyed
9. Flipping the Bird
10. No Gods No Masters
11. This City Will Kill You

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