Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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  • Garbage [Almo, 1995] ***
  • Version 2.0 [Almo, 1998] A-
  • Beautiful Garbage [Interscope, 2001] *
  • Bleed Like Me [Geffen, 2005] Choice Cuts
  • Strange Little Birds [Vagrant, 2016] *
  • No Gods No Masters [Stunvolume/Infectious Music, 2021] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Garbage [Almo, 1995]
if Whale is Tricky without a dark side, Garbage is Whale without Tricky and depressed about it ("Queer," "Supervixen") ***

Version 2.0 [Almo, 1998]
The chrome-plated hooks and metronome hardbeats of this irresistibly dislikable exercise are perfect for a frontwoman whose vaunted sexuality is no more welcoming than Tina Turner's. For those of us with no knack for real-life sadomasochism, how better combine pleasure and pain than to let 12 impregnable theoretical hits march over us in their digital boots? A-

Beautiful Garbage [Interscope, 2001]
the new Annie Lennox--bad dreams are made of this ("Silence Is Golden," "Cherry Lips [Go Baby Go]") *

Bleed Like Me [Geffen, 2005]
"Bleed Like Me," "Why Don't You Come Over" Choice Cuts

Strange Little Birds [Vagrant, 2016]
More precision-tooled lust for the lovelorn from a strange bird you'd think would be too old for this shit ("So We Can Stay Alive," "Teaching Little Fingers to Play") *

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-