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Bleed Like Me

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Album Review

As polished and professional as it was, Garbage's third album, Beautiful Garbage, killed whatever momentum the quartet had as the LP commercially crashed and burned not long after its fall 2001 release. Subsequently, the band faded out of view, taking a long hiatus before regrouping in 2004 to record their fourth album, Bleed Like Me, which was finally released in the spring of 2005. Although it was released halfway through the first decade of the 21st century, it belongs to the midpoint of the last decade of the 20th century, sounding like a virtual Cliff Notes of the sounds, themes, and styles of the post-grunge '90s. As they beefed up the guitars, the band have toned down some of the electronica underpinnings that have been present since their debut — they've not been excised, merely subdued, so this is still recognizably the work of a group that called their second album Version 2.0 with their tongue firmly planted in cheek. But Garbage don't just hark back to their earlier work on Bleed Like Me, they conjure all kinds of ghosts from the '90s, building "Sex Is Not the Enemy" on a Kim Deal bassline, while pasting together a guitar riff straight off of Stone Temple Pilots' Purple and a chorus from Elastica's classic "Stutter" for the album's first single, "Why Do You Love Me." Other sounds of the '90s flutter throughout the album — the title track reaches back even further, as its cavalcade of misfits uncannily recalls Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side" in its structure, sentiment, and melody — while lead singer/lyricist Shirley Manson trots out a litany of doomed relationships, kinky sex, wallowing despair, teenage cutters, and hostile confrontations, all topics that were de rigueur for '90s alt-rock. Manson doesn't seem like she's pandering — several songs appear to cut close to the bone, suggesting that she's been through a particularly painful breakup recently — and neither do the band. They're all old pros and they construct their music well, so it's hooky and loudly stylish. Problem is, it's a style that's about ten years out of date. Bleed Like Me doesn't sound like a revival, it feels like it's out of time, as if the band doesn't quite know how to do anything else but sound like it's the heyday of post-grunge alt-rock. Since the band's drummer and chief sonic architect, Butch Vig, helped create that sound with the albums he produced for Nirvana, the Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth, and L7, that's not a surprise, nor is it necessarily a disappointment, because the music is not bad. He and his colleagues remain talented, capable professionals, crafting an appealing, tightly constructed album that plays to the group's strengths. It's an enjoyable record, but it's hard to escape the nagging feeling that Garbage has painted itself into a corner: they haven't found a way to expand their sound, to make it richer or mature — they can only deliver more of the same. While they may be able to do this well, it is nevertheless more of the same.

Customer Reviews

A Perfect Album

For years, I was a "casual" Garbage fan, but now consider me blown away. "Bleed Like Me" is a ridiculously flawless album. There's not a single misstep, and as absolutely fantastic as the individual songs are on their own, the whole is even greater than the sum of the parts. The opening track sets a very aggressive tone, which is then carried through on Run Baby Run, ...Between the Eyes, and ...Love Me. The construction of these songs is amazing, with each one continually accelerating as it plays out; beautiful dynamics. Bleed Like Me may lack the surficial intensity possessed by the first four songs, but the subject matter is more intense; it truly is a beautiful song, with heartbreaking lyrics. It's All Over... is another beautiful, profoundly moving piece, with Metal Heart, Sex..., Boys..., and Why.. calling back the intensity that the first four tracks introduced. Finally, Happy Home is the perfect conclusion to the album. The final two minutes of the song, for the first time on the album, introduce a wonderful sense of redemption and optimism, which washes away all of the aggression that led to it. In that accomplishment, the album takes on a whole new meaning; it IS full of anger, but it's really about hope. In summary, the individual songs are simply amazing works of writing and instrumentation, but taken together as a single work, the album Bleed Like Me does what few others can claim; it takes the listener on an incredible emotional journey.

The Best

This is one of my favorite albums ever!!! Listen to Run Baby Run, Bleed Like Me, It's All Over.., and Happy Home

Best yet!!!

I have to say that this is my favorite Garbage album, for various reasons. They crashed and burned with Beautiful Garbage (it did put out good songs like Shut Your Mouth, Androgyny, Cherry Lips, and Breaking the Girl but the rest of it was weak), so it was nice to see such a improvement with this album. It starts off strong with Bad Boyfriend, keeps going with Run Baby Run and Right Between the Eyes, then we get to Why Do You Love Me. I like the song, but it does sound like a few songs from Beautiful Garbage. Great choice for a single, however. Then Bleed Like Me, the most lyrically strong song in the album. Very good song. Metal Heart, once again, a very good song, Sex Is Not the Enemy, and It's All Over But the Crying. I can relate to this song because my friend is going through a breakup right now and the song is all about breaking up. The album continues with Boys Wanna Fight and Why Don't You Come Over, which weren't bad songs but not my favorites either. Then the last song, Happy Home. This is by far the best song on the album. It has a different sound and it really spoke to me. Shirley's voice is top notch on this track and it was a excellent way to round off a good album. Kudos, Garbage. I can't wait for the next Garbage release!!!


Formed: 1993 in Madison, WI

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Garbage built on the sonic landscapes of My Bloody Valentine, Curve, and Sonic Youth, adding a distinct sense of accessible pop songcraft. The band was the brainchild of producers Butch Vig, Duke Erikson, and Steve Marker, who initially held an informal jam session in Marker's basement, but they eventually recruited vocalist Shirley Manson, who had previously sung with Angelfish and Goodbye Mr. MacKenzie. Vig is a native of Viroqua, Wisconsin, who learned to play piano as a child and drums as a...
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