Garbage – No Gods No Masters
Garbage’s seventh album finds them in furious creative form. Their first since 2016, No Gods No Masters sees the band back to their mid-to-late-90s best, but reacting to a world seriously crazier than the one they were making music in then.
Somewhat unusually for such a successful and long-running band, the line-up – Scottish singer and musician Shirley Manson (on vocals) and American musicians Duke Erikson (guitar, bass, keyboards), Steve Marker (guitar, keyboards) and Butch Vig (drums, production) – has remained unchanged since its inception. This might explain why the sound is so assured: fresh, yet unmistakably Garbage. While they have cited Roxy Music and Talking Heads as influences on this album, really they only ever sound like themselves. This is peak, distilled Garbage (a good thing). The sound is creeping, eclectic and complex, restlessly picking up influences to weave a unique vision of thrashing guitars, punk sensibilities and self-reflection.
Listeners find Manson undimmed by the 26 years since their debut, and feeling revolutionary. Opening track The Men Who Rule the World declares, “The men who rule the world / Have made a fucking mess.” Manson has said the song is inspired by Funkadelic’s George Clinton and his P-Funk Mothership concept (“a fictional vehicle of funk deliverance”, according to Wikipedia), to create a sci-fi version of the Noah’s Ark tale. And why not? Manson implores, “Now let’s save all of the animals / Let’s save all the squid.” The creeping refrain of “money, money, money” slinks through the track, the music as menacing and cacophonous as the world can seem to those who pay attention.
Wolves has a video whose aesthetic matches the twisted, dark sound of the music. It is a reflection on the singer’s younger self and the casual cruelty one can inflict, even on those one loves. Some might find the lyrics simplify disparate and highly complicated issues, but there is so much musical innovation from the band, and power and charisma from Manson, that it feels fresh and scalding. Anonymous XXX mixes louche Southern rock guitar with complex drum patterns and a roaming tune and vibe. The lyrics focus Manson’s ire on those in authority, racists, and herself, at times. It’s worth noting that some of the output is covers that are only included in the deluxe version – a woozy version of Starman and an incendiary version of Because the Night – which are also well worth a listen.
No Gods No Masters is released on 11th June 2021. For further information or to order the album visit Garbage’s website here.
Watch the video for the single The Men Who Rule the World here: