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Design By Humans
Published On: Mon, Jul 4th, 2016

Garbage: Strange Little Birds

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Strange Little Birds
(Stunvolume Records)

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Back when music videos still meant something, Garbage was infinitely cool. With her bright red hair and pale skin, Shirley Manson showed that women could rock front and center. The band may be a little older, and Manson’s hair may be pink these days, but Strange Little Birds is a bold, introspective record with equal lashings of guitar rock and sinister electronics. From the opening track “Sometimes,” which flits between strings and dark, brooding beats, it’s clear that the band isn’t out to recreate their old sound. Lyrically, much of the album is comfortable in its insecurity. “I’ve been feeling so frustrated/I’ll never be as great as I want to be,” Manson sings on “Empty,” while on “Night Drive Loneliness” she references her “blue velvet dress in [her] closet,” as she seems to flee from the memory of a past mistake. Not everything is so dark on Strange Little Birds though. “Even Though Our Love Is Doomed” describes a couple in a relationship that has no hope, but still the protagonist finds that it’s worth it in the moment. The upbeat “We Never Tell” describes a love affair that goes unspoken, and “Teaching Little Fingers to Play” is a slinky, sexy tune. “I’m all grown up, no one around to fix me now,” Manson sings over throbbing bass. The light and the dark play together well to make a record that ultimately feels human and honest.

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Garbage: Strange Little Birds