Garbage to treasure


White Records through Mushroom
Reviewed by Jen Crothers
One person's garbage is another person's treasure, to paraphrase an old saying. That's how the name of this new band originated. On hearing some early material, one musician's response was: "This sounds like garbage". Butch Vig, hot producer of bands such as Nirvana and Sonic Youth, and member of the then unnamed band replied: "Exactly, and we're going to turn this garbage into a song." They have and in the process Garbage have turned out an impressive debut album. It's clever music which sounds innovative yet can be compared with bands such as Curve and My Bloody Valentine. Garbage use loops and samples extensively but through the almost chaotic noise emerges memorable melodies. These are songs that you'll sing to yourself all day without getting annoyed. Shirley Manson, vocalist and guitarist, has a powerful voice, which soars and dips like a bird. It can plead or demand. It can sound dreamy or psychotic. Her impact on Duke Erikson, Steve Marker and Butch Vig turned Garbage from an idea into a band. They all have an interest in melancholy and perversity and this comes through strongly in their music. Manson suggests that her melancholy comes from growing up "desperately unhappy despite a perfect upbringing. I was convinced I was the ugliest creature that ever lived, that everybody hated me and the only way to deal with it was to be as unpleasant as possible." Yet Manson's melancholy is not at all unpleasant. Despite the overall "I'm only happy when it rains" mood of the album, it makes you want to move. The second single, "Queer", is one of the best songs on the album. According to Manson it's about "tolerance, letting people be what they want to be, surrendering to who you are". Vig thinks that Garbage is "a record for pop geeks who dance by themselves with the lights out". Maybe true, but people with an interest in grunge will get their money's worth out of this garbage.