Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Garbage: No Gods No Masters [Stunvolume/Infectious Music, 2021]
Of all the many strong women to take on the burden of rock innovation in the '90s--O'Connor, Harvey, Stefani, Phair, Love, Tucker, Brownstein, a whole lot none too soon--Shirley Manson was the ice queen. So for me she proved an acquired taste hard to hear through to the end. I mean, if cold is your default affect, at least freeze out someone more worthy of scorn than whatever schmo has his third eye on your pants. Which I'm happy to say is what happens on an album that begins with songs called "The Men Who Rule the World" (and made "a fucking mess") and "The Creeps" (who sell her out). "Uncomfortably Me" ("I was a jerk") leads to the pained catalogue of human suffering "Waiting for God." "Anonymous Sex" she's above, "Would you deceive me if I had a dick" is fair enough, and "Our love was supreme" in the booklet becomes "Our love is supreme" on the record before the dumb guy swaps his "queen out for a pawn" anyway. It's enough to make me say too late to stop now, but not to charm me into signing off on the deluxe edition. A-