The self-titled debut, Garbage, was released in 1995 seeping with distorted, thick guitar riffs and the popular angst of many mid-’90s alternative bands. Garbage, however, threw a few distinctive curve balls into its sound with pop influences and electronic beats.
Composed of Shirley Manson (vocals, guitars) and Duke Erikson (bass, guitar, keyboards and percussion), Steve Marker (guitar and keyboards) and Butch Vig (drums and percussion), the Garbage foursome combine their songwriting and producing skills to create an album that was a bit avant-garde for the time. Holding onto the morose and self-loathing themes of post-grunge, while embracing upbeat electronic tempos, Garbage proved that one could have their grungy, angry music and still dance.
Of Garbage’s dozen track listings, “Queer,” “Only Happy When It Rains” and “Stupid Girl” manifest themselves as the album’s primary blockbusters. The second song on Garbage and the second single to be released is “Queer,” and it opens with a trippy, downtempo feel. The lyrics express a loss of innocence, as Manson sings: “Hey boy, take a look at me / Let me dirty up your mind / I’ll strip away your hard veneer / And see what I can find.”
“Only Happy When It Rains” was the single that helped hoist Garbage to Billboard’s “Top 100” for the first time. The song takes a proverbial stab at the melancholic misery so prevalent within the grunge culture. “I’m only happy when it rains / I feel good when things are going wrong / I only listen to the sad, sad songs / I’m only happy when it rains,” sings Manson. Ironically, the tempo is upbeat and full of percussion that makes the song perhaps the most danceable on the album.
The fourth single released, “Stupid Girl,” was released about a year after Garbage was released. “Stupid Girl” draws on influences from The Clash’s “Train in Vain,” borrowing its opening drum sample. Despite the song’s title, the lyrics, in an act of altruistic female empowerment, actually suggest that a girl should put herself first. “Don’t believe in love / Don’t believe in hate / Don’t believe in anything / That you can’t waste.” The song’s repeating heavy bassline and distorted feedback, in addition to the drumline, give it a versatile alternative rock sound.
Garbage released three more albums before taking somewhat of a permanent hiatus — Version 2.0 (1998), Beautiful Garbage (2001) and Bleed Like Me (2005). Currently, the band has rejoined, releasing Not Your Kind of People, released May 14, and launching a worldwide tour supporting their fifth studio album.
Garbage – Garbage tracklist:
- “Only Happy When It Rains”
- “As Heaven Is Wide”
- “Not My Idea”
- “A Stroke Of Luck”
- “Stupid Girl”
- “Dog New Tricks”
- “My Lover’s Box”
- “Fix Me Now”