Bleed Like Me

RS: 3.5of 5 Stars Average User Rating: 4.5of 5 Stars


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Garbage have been making smart hard-pop records about desire and disaster, breaking up and starting over, for precisely a decade. It does not come easy for them. Bleed Like Me is only their fourth album in those ten years -- their first since 2001's Beautifulgarbage -- and making it was nearly the end of them. Early fractious sessions ground to a halt when drummer-guitarist Butch Vig -- a celebrity in his own right for his Nineties production work with Nirvana, Sonic Youth and Smashing Pumpkins -- quit the group, effectively killing it.

He returned four months later and Garbage went back to work. This is the result: the first Garbage album that sounds as if Vig, guitarists-keysmen Duke Erikson and Steve Marker, and Scottish vocal fireball Shirley Manson truly know what they're writing, singing and raging about. "I've held back a wealth of shit/I think I'm gonna choke," Manson snaps in "Why Do You Love Me," a high-speed bouquet of rusted-razor-blade guitars. She can smell her own blood on these tracks. You hear it in high, vicious fidelity.

"Bad Boyfriend" opens the record like a honeyed chunk of Blondie wrapped in thick, serrated layers of Deep Purple: big guitars; even bigger drums courtesy of Dave Grohl, modern rock's own John Bonham; punchy-sax-section electronics that give you an idea of how Nirvana's Nevermind would have sounded if Vig had let loose his inner Phil Spector. Manson plays the predatory coquette with breathy relish ("I know some tricks I swear will give you the bends"). But she is under no illusions about the high price of guilt-free pleasure. Manson has surrendered to the inevitable betrayal around the corner before the song is even over: "If you can't love me, honey/Go on, just pretend." Three minutes into the album and the bad news is already in your face: When you want something in the worst way, that is surely how you will get it.

The first two-thirds of Bleed Like Me is easily the best sustained run of studio Garbage since the opening half of their 1995 debut. The density and detail of the charging guitars in "Bad Boyfriend," "Right Between the Eyes" and "Why Do You Love Me" make you wonder if, in another life, Vig, Marker and Erikson were all members of Blue Oyster Cult. They are certainly old enough in this life to know the original New Wave firsthand, so it comes as no surprise that in "Run Baby Run," Garbage do 1982 better and fresher than revival puppies like Kasabian and Bloc Party. Surrounded by a black forest of power-chord distortion, Manson pleads and prays like Deborah Harry atop a bouncing, throaty guitar riff that New Order would envy. Later, Manson shows off her deep affection for Patti Smith in the synth-pop frost of "Metal Heart," fronting the corrosion with a fight and aplomb that prove one doesn't have to sing through scabrous distortion -- take note, Marilyn Manson and Trent Reznor -- to mix pain and machines.

A sameness -- a feeling of roaring in circles -- creeps in toward the end of the record, as if the drama and drain of cracking up and coming together again left Garbage without enough strength, time or songs to maintain the high, shrill thrills upfront. But whatever the four of them went through to get this far, it was worth it just for the title track: a haunting spin on Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side," except this time everyone keeps falling over. Set in a grassy bed of acoustic guitar, dotted with Sgt. Pepper-esque splashes of Mellotron and mariachi-funeral brass, "Bleed Like Me" is a roll call of the sick, addicted and suicidal - Avalanche the anorexic; Chrissie, the boy who may be a girl -- sung by Manson in a cracked whisper that at times eerily sounds like Courtney Love (before she became a regular on Court TV). Manson spares no love or detail for the victims here -- and that ultimately includes herself. "You should see my scars," she sings with chilling sweetness in the bridge. You'll find it hard to look away.


(Posted: Apr, 21 2005)


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Track List

View Garbage on Rhapsody


  • Bad Boyfriend (track not available in Rhapsody)
  • Run Baby Run (track not available in Rhapsody)
  • Right Between The Eyes (track not available in Rhapsody)
  • Why Do You Love Me (track not available in Rhapsody)
  • Bleed Like Me (track not available in Rhapsody)
  • Metal Heart (track not available in Rhapsody)
  • Sex Is Not The Enemy (track not available in Rhapsody)
  • It's All Over But The Crying (track not available in Rhapsody)
  • Boys Wanna Fight (track not available in Rhapsody)
  • Why Don't You Come Over (track not available in Rhapsody)
  • Happy Home (track not available in Rhapsody)


Review 1 of 1

0 of 1 found this comment useful ( 0% )

Bluemask writes:

3of 5 Stars

A deft album from the original dance rockers. Why Do You Love Me has the dense guitars and frantic lyrics that made When I Grow Up a hit but for the rest of the album the band expierments in their own way. The brass flourishs on Bad Boyfreind and the title track are a welcome releif. The album eventually runs out of steam but that's too be expected from these guys.

Jan, 5 2006 14:31:05

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