Bleed Like Me

Studio Album by released in 2005

Bleed Like Me review

Garbage singer Shirley Manson was one of the most complicated and charismatic women in 90s mainstream rock, balancing power and pliability, mercurial sexuality and fears and emotions. Garbage has consistently tricked proud rockers into buying pop music. The genre-defying quartet's pop has always been neatly tucked away beneath a coat of guitars and frenzied electronic programming. In 2001, Garbage revealed more of their pop side than ever with the aptly-titled Beautiful Garbage, but it may have been just a little too beautiful for their rock constituency's tastes and the album failed to reprise the commercial and critical success of the Grammy-nominated Version 2.0. After rumors of professional and personal divorces (the band briefly broke up during recording and lead singer Shirley Manson split with her husband of seven years), Garbage picked up the pieces and recorded Bleed Like Me, their hardest record to date. It was finally released in the spring of 2005!

Musically, Garbage is an accomplished group of individuals, three musicians (Butch Vig, Doug "Duke" Erikson, and Steve Marker) and Shirley Manson. And traditionally, Garbage worked like a well-oiled music machine: member and producer Butch Vig would make it sound ugly, singer Shirley Manson would throw in some sexy and damaged lyrics, and the hits came a rollin'. So, maybe it's a good thing that the band nearly called it quits over the last four years and Manson left her husband, because something's back. Manson opens up more than ever on the ferociously female "Why Do You Love Me", "Why Don't You Come Over" and the confessional title track "Bleed Like Me". It is a song about "damaged" people, a self-pitying cry of pain and surely forces the listener to worry for Manson's own safety. For if this album had been released following her demise, fingers would surely point at this track as some kind of suicide note. Meanwhile, the album's highlight, "Boys Wanna Fight," is the kind of tech-tinged rock that was a hallmark of the group's earlier albums. The opening song, "Bad Boyfriend," features drum work by Dave Grohl, who previously worked with Garbage-man Butch Vig on Nirvana's Nevermind, and it was Grohl's lightning-quick performance that set the tone for the rest of the album, including the lead single "Why Do You Love Me," which is fast, filthy, and patently Garbage. Songs once padded with samples and electronic sounds are now layered with even more guitars. "Run Baby Run" and "Right Between The Eyes" in particular have all the right ingredients. And thankfully not all of the band's signature electro-rock fusion has been excised—the old Garbage resurfaces on "Metal Heart" and "Boys Wanna Fight," a song about war and dancing, while "Sex Is Not The Enemy," a response to the new Puritanism, peddles the message that's become Manson's creative watermark: "A revolution is the solution."

All in all, Bleed Like Me is a winning return to form for the three men and a little lady. Crisp and well rehearsed guitar rhythms, bass lines that drive verses and tight percussion lead the listener on a familiar audio structure that Garbage have used on earlier albums. If Version 2.0 was techno-pop perfection posing as rock, Bleed Like Me is its noisy, long-haired cousin playing metal riffs in the garage. It cranks up the volume when it needs to, holds back when it's prudent to do so and, most importantly, consists of consistently listenable songs. It's hardly revolutionary but, as we all know, there's nothing wrong with recycled Garbage now, is there?