Review: Garbage – “No Gods No Masters”

After what seems like forever Garbage are finally back with their politically charged new album, No Gods No Masters. Garbage are a funny band in the sense that they’ve never conformed to one particular style or fitted any standard mould. They’ve always been true to themselves, unapologetically so, and not only is that something to be commended but it is also something to be celebrated in these copy / paste times of recycled bullshit.

For the most part the reviews for No Gods No Masters have been universally praising the album and I’m over the moon that the band is getting a lot of positive feedback on this one however, I just don’t see it myself. I’ve listened to the album through a couple of times now and it just isn’t for me. Something about it just isn’t clicking for me and I’m not really sure what it is. I appreciate what they’re trying to do and the message they’re trying to send but unfortunately that doesn’t translate into an enjoyable listening experience.

Stylistically the album is very much what you’d expect from Garbage and granted I do think there’s a few tracks on No Gods No Masters that do feel a little more experimental than normal. However, overall it didn’t suck me in like I’d hoped. I have seen some detractors of the album refer to the album as angry but I would warn not to confuse anger with passion and while I’m never usually one for politics in my music, I can’t fault or argue with the message this album is trying to convey to the listener.

As is the case on every Garbage album, the production is absolutely flawless and is easily one of the best sounding albums of the year even if I don’t find that to be the case musically. I think that maybe a rawer feel to the vocals would have helped elevate the album and give it the edge it was clearly aiming for with Shirley Manson’s natural and alluring tones a little to clean for their own good.

Admittedly I didn’t really like the band’s last album either and truth be told I maybe prefer No Gods No Masters over that one with tracks like Wolves and Anonymous XXX being particular highlights but there isn’t enough here for me to return to this album anytime soon.

I can see a lot of Garbage fans, old and new, falling head over heels in love with this album and if that’s the case them I’m happy for them but for me I was looking for something else from this one. My biggest concern is that unlike some of the other albums in the band’s back catalogue this very much feels like a product of its time and as such I wouldn’t be shocked to see it fade away into obscurity after just a year or two.

by Edward Laing