In the wake of an “indefinite hiatus” that led some to believe they would never play together again, Garbage makes a dramatic return with their fifth studio effort, Not Your Kind of People. As the band’s first original release in seven years and perhaps their most anticipated album, Not Your Kind of People maintains Garbage’s distinctive electric rock sound, catchy invigorating riffs and musical complexity while showcasing a renewed energy not seen in years. Though it lacks an overall cohesion, the album offers listeners eleven individually strong tracks and the reassurance that Garbage, a band invaluable to the alternative-rock genre, is here to stay.
Those familiar with the quartet will immediately note that despite a long break from the music industry, the new album carries the quintessential Garbage sound: an enticing blend of dirty guitar, driving beats, energetic yet seductive vocals and stunning electronic effects unique to any other band in music today. While this aesthetic may leave the album feeling recycled or slightly flat to some, by focusing on their strengths on Not Your Kind of People, Garbage ensures a seamless reentry into a music scene they left on top. Singles “Blood for Poppies” and “Battle in Me” exhibit the murky and distorted, yet pop-driven guitar so prevalent on 2005’s Bleed Like Me. Similarly, “Big Bright World” and “Felt” soar with a larger-than-life sound that recaptures the vibe of classic Garbage tracks like “When I Grow Up” and “Parade.” Simply put, Not Your Kind of People is Garbage doing what they do best. The record’s compelling riffs, electronic embellishments, layered sound and polished production recall earlier albums and give them a solid reintroduction to listeners without diminishing their edgy style.
Aside from the return of Garbage’s distinguished sound, the raw energy permeating nearly every song on Not Your Kind of People serves as one of the album’s greatest strengths. This enthusiasm not only illustrates the rejuvenation of Garbage as a group, but at times also seems to give the rock quartet a fresh feel, almost as if they are an entirely new band. “Control” and “I Hate Love,” easily two of the best tracks from Not Your Kind of People, exemplify this sense of revival. The former starts quiet with a few reserved lines, but quickly launches into a loud and aggressive recollection of a relationship gone awry as vocalist Shirley Manson passionately belts cryptic lyrics rife with meaning. Similarly, “I Hate Love” features Manson’s seductive voice and a punchy, addictive melody in a tale of deception and agony. The emotion conveyed through Manson’s vocals and the band’s aggressive style in these tracks imparts a vibrant energy, and gives certain tracks on the album a youthful aura. Of course, the production by Garbage’s own Butch Vig clearly demonstrates the band’s musical maturity through great sound balance and layering, but this new-found vitality serves as one of Not Your Kind of People’s greatest assets and is sure to make several of its tracks instant Garbage classics.
Though Not Your Kind of People contains eleven individually strong tracks that prominently feature Garbage’s well-established aesthetic and a youthful verve, the album struggles to come together to give listeners a truly memorable experience. Yes, Not Your Kind of People kicks off with a thrilling four song introduction that prominently features an exciting opener in “Automatic Systematic Habit,” and three additional incredibly captivating tracks. However, all momentum built during this section of the record is lost during title track “Not Your Kind of People,” a stagnant, low-energy song that does little to progress the narrative of the album. Though the latter half of Not Your Kind of People offers some of the best writing seen from Garbage since Version 2.0, the album never truly finds its footing before the final notes of closer “Beloved Freak” ring out. Although every track on Not Your Kind of People can be considered strong when heard individually, played together the songs fail to mesh in a way that leaves the listener wanting more. As a whole the album lacks replay value, and with the exception of individual songs like “Sugar,” “Control,” and “I Hate Love,” it is sure to leave some feeling unfulfilled after just a few spins.
In spite of its faults, Not Your Kind of People strongly carries the Garbage brand with a sound and style that is sure to please most listeners while helping the band to rediscover its place in today’s rock music scene. The album’s deficiencies may raise questions about how Garbage will adjust to an ever-changing world, but for a band coming off of a seven-year hiatus, Not Your Kind of People is far more than many expected. Armed with a fresh vitality and a solid album that plays to their strengths, Garbage is back as talented as ever, and they won’t be leaving any time soon.