Last week, Garbage’s eponymous debut album turned 25 years old. It’s really good, go listen to it. Bye!
I could definitely leave this piece at those 2 sentences – and believe me, I was very tempted to – but it felt a little disingenuous, especially when talking about an album I simply adore. In 1995 when Garbage was released, it received wide critical acclaim and over its lifespan it has sold over 4 million copies worldwide! It kickstarted the career of a band whom I’ve grown to love very much, and whom I think seem a little unfairly forgotten by the public at large in 2020. But that’s a piece for another day. Today, let’s just focus on a few reasons as to why you should either revisit or maybe even go and listen to Garbage for the very first time!
Let’s get the obvious out of the way – Only Happy When It Rains is one of the best songs ever written and it’s on this very album. Maybe you don’t know it by name, but I can almost guarantee you’ve heard this song somewhere in passing – it was featured in Captain Marvel last year, for example. A quintessential Alt culture anthem, featuring more superb guitar licks within its 4-minute runtime than some bands manage in their entire careers.
And yet, I daresay most fans wouldn’t choose it as their favourite on the album – myself included! My personal favourite is the opener Supervixen, a song full of stop-starts and with an incredible set of lyrics. Other favourites include singles Stupid Girl, Vow and Queer – a song that became huge for LGBTQ+ people at a time when there wasn’t an awful lot of public support for them. In fact, Garbage have been huge proponents and allies of LGBTQ+ movements ever since their start.
It’d be inexcusable not to mention the band’s frontwoman, Shirley Manson. In a word, Shirley is brilliant. A woman who truly commands any stage she stands on, whose lyrics can capture the hearts and minds of anyone willing to listen and who just exudes charisma in a way that even the shyest person in the world would find difficult to resist. Everything about her is empowering, and she is exactly who you would want on your side in an argument. In 2020 we’re lucky enough to have countless badass women in Rock showing the world how it’s done, but in 1995 it was unfortunately much less common – the main 3 coming to mind are Gwen Stefani, Courtney Love and, of course, Shirley (you could probably include Alanis Morissette too if you feel so inclined). Shirley not only helped pave the way, but she signed her initials in the wet cement as she did so, ensuring her name would live on in the annals of Rock history.
I’d be remiss not to also mention Shirley’s bandmates too, all of whom hold the ability to craft and produce songs of exceptional quality, even outside of this band – Duke Erikson, Steve Marker and, of course, Butch Vig. Yup, if you didn’t already know, the man who produced Nirvana’s Nevermind and the Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream, among countless other incredible albums, is the drummer in Garbage. There is so much talent in this band that it almost seems unbelievable.
This is just a tiny smattering of reasons as to why Garbage is an album that’s worth your time, both in 1995 and now, 25 years later. Of course, I’d recommend every single one of their 6 albums to you had I the time or word count to do so. Perhaps I will in the future. For now, though, happy 25th birthday Garbage!
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