This weekend, Garbage released their sixth studio album, Strange Little Birds. While the band tends to take their time when it comes to releasing new material, they’ve been remarkably consistent throughout their decades-long career. Their reign in 90s alt-rock is unquestionable, but it unfairly casts an unfortunate shadow over the rest of their lengthy and sterling discography. Sure, tracks like “Stupid Girl,” “I Think I’m Paranoid,” “#1 Crush,” “Push It,” and “Only Happy When It Rains” will stick with us forever, but their rule of hard rock didn’t stop at the turn of the century. With that in mind, today, we’re looking at the best Garbage songs that were made after the ’90s.
“Bleed Like Me”
The title track from Garbage’s oft-overlooked 2005 album, this was Garbage at their gloriously darkest, as this song easily could have fit onto their debut. “Bleed Like Me” features tales from a number of of disturbed or generally down on their luck people, while repeatedly asking us “hey baby, can you bleed like me?”. Garbage always had a knack for forcing us to think about and empathize with the elements of society that would would otherwise dismiss, and this song is a perfect example.
“Sex Is Not The Enemy”
This song features one of the most provocative titles — and videos — in the Garbage catalog, but while the sex-positive lyrics are certainly worth listening to, what really makes this one special is that it’s just a freaking great rock ‘n roll track. With a killer chorus, and a generally power-popish sound, it’s a bit surprising this song didn’t become a massive hit. Did the title scare radio programmers away? Oh well, it’s still one of the best songs on Bleed Like Me, and one of the best songs of the band’s career.
This song, about a destructive femme fatale was one of the band’s bigger hits, and it’s easy to see why, as it ranks high among the more immediately catchy songs in the band’s catalog. The song also features the type of loud/quiet/loud dynamic that the Pixies were best known (and really, Manson actually sounds a bit like Kim Deal here). Finally, anyone who played PS2 in the early 2000s likely remembers this one from the Amplitude soundtrack.
“Blood For Poppies”
After Bleed Like Me, Garbage took a seven-year hiatus, and this was the number that reintroduced them to the world. It was a welcome return. Like so many classic Garbage songs, “Blood For Poppies” manages to combine dark lyrical themes with catchy melodies and an undeniable chorus. At this point, Garbage were no longer getting the same radio recognition that they did in the late 90s and early 2000s, but it didn’t matter; anyone willing to seek the band out could tell they were as strong as ever.
“Because The Night” – with Screaming Females
This Record Store Day release from 2013 didn’t get a ton of attention, but it certainly deserves a spot here. It’s hard to think of a better combination than Shirley Manson and Marissa Paternoster of Screaming Females, as they play off each other quite well. Manson’s vocals are subtle and pretty, while Paternoster kicks the song into high gear, more or less playing the role that Springsteen played on the original. This was a perfectly executed cover, and it featured two of the most talented women in rock at the top of their games.
The first single from Strange Little Birds, this track shows that Garbage have aged quite gracefully, if they’ve even aged at all. This song has a killer guitar tone, and one of the most anthemic choruses of the band’s career. Time will tell if alt-rock radio has enough interest in Garbage for this to become a hit, but it certainly deserves to. It has all the makings of a Garbage classic and shows that the band hasn’t lost any of their trademark attitude.