GARBAGE:Strange Little Birds.

11 06 2016

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“Every broken thing can’t be fixed.
And all those fragile things we are,
They find their voice, they find their power.”

Some feelings we have can be replicated by others things, and other people. In a way I guess that can make us question the legitimacy of it- but that depends on the feeling and who/what made you first feel it. Feelings are hard to wrap our heads and hearts around, and like most, I use music as some kind of means to get into whatever is going on. It, for the most part helps. But there’s one feeling that can only come from one thing in particular. I’ll never feel it from anyone else. That feeling is when your favourite band, the band that dragged you through hell and back for over 20 years come back with a new record. Each Garbage record has matched a point in my life where only their music would do. Only their music would be the thing that got me through. I’m aware I sound like an oversensitive idiot- but I’m trying to state the importance of them, but do I really need to? They’ve been around for over 20 years and they’re still here, so that speaks more than my words ever could. Yesterday Strange Little Birds came out, and yet again, they’ve managed to make a record that fits comfortingly into what’s going on inside. I’ve read a few reviews where they have said that Strange Little Birds sounds a bit like their first record, but to be honest, it could be a really loud Acid House record and I’d still love it- because it’s them. I’m an unconditional fan for life.

Sometimes: A song that oozes destruction is always the perfect way to start a record. It starts with an intense piano intro which is followed by what resembles a rumble of thunder. Then Shirley’s voice kicks in and the words hit hard. It is such a haunting and dark song, and in a way that’s been what I’ve clung onto- Shirley isn’t afraid to speak of insecurities and ugly feelings we are always told to cast aside. There are many ways in which this band are my absolute heroes/heroine, and it’s their honesty that does it. I challenge anyone to not relate to: “Sometimes I feel like I vanished in thin air.
Sometimes I feel I’m not here.”

Empty: Firstly, please play this as loud as you can and secondly, this is the one that captures their first record in 2016. Like a lot of Garbage fans, their first record changed my life. I was just approaching 10 years of age, my dad wasn’t doing so good (he died a few weeks after their first record came out, and I saved up for a tape copy of it with my pocket money) and this record, as young as I was became everything to me. As I got older, I related to the songs more. And to hear something that takes me back 21 years is messing with my head big time but you carry on, you have to. What I get from Empty is being able to not relate to everyone who has to pour their lives on to social media in order to seek validation of others. Maybe they are the ones that are empty. We all are in a way, there’s always something missing. I think the lyric I love the most is this: “So I work at staying patient. Good things come to those that wait, or so they say.” However, I’m not entirely sure what I’m waiting for.

Blackout: The bass on this is one of the best moments for me on the record. It’s got this deep, swirling sound which is like Warpaint meets The Cure. It’s dark, intense and spins you off into a dream. With it being over 6 minutes long, it’s just bloody ideal. It’s an intense ride that feels like a telling off to the self. It’s the perfect way to get back at anyone or anything that’s pissed you off. I guess with how Shirley sings this and the gorgeous menacing lyrics will make some link this to the likes of Stupid Girl. I see it, I really do but the sound on Blackout is so big and so powerful, you in a way, forget all that’s come before Strange Little Birds. What I’m getting from this record so far is that Garbage don’t sound completely like a band who have been around for 2 decades here, they sound like a brand new band who are here to show us how it is done. They’ve got more power, bite and determination than a lot of newer bands, and that alone just deepens my love for them. I love the sheer attitude in this song that comes out from all of them. Perfect.

If I Lost You: This song is painfully open and hugely vulnerable. That’s what drew me towards Garbage years and years ago. The openness and carefree honesty always touched me. Maybe it’s for the good or bad that I’ve never been jealous of the person I’ve been in a relationship with, but the lyrics to If I Lost You are so easy to relate to, you imagine going through it. Or, you can imagine how the other person feels. I’m swaying towards the latter and it brings out a change of ways. I just think this is line is one of the most powerful on the record: “Are you so strong, or is the weakness in me?” We’ve all felt that way- friendship, relationship, all felt it.

Night Drive Loneliness: I love songs that give off a feeling that you can only get when you listen to them at a certain part of the day/night. There are a few bands I love that I can only listen to at night time because of the mood they create. I’ve never really felt that way with Garbage until now. Night Drive Loneliness would probably sound better if I could drive and if it was dark out. Instead, I’m at my desk in my room at 2:15pm and it’s raining. Again. Maybe that’s my version of a night drive. This is my escape. I love how this song captures the desire to escape everything and everyone so beautifully. A feeling that doesn’t always leave, and I think if we didn’t want to escape every now and then we’d have robotic tendencies and be blank humans. Or maybe you can go the other way with this song. Maybe it’s feeling lonely when surrounded by a load of people. Maybe it’s a touch of both. Take it however you want, and make it your own.

Even Though Our Love Is Doomed: This one hits close to the bone for many reasons. Maybe all love is doomed to an extent, but me personally, I’d rather go towards something that could be doomed than not have every single part of me challenged. Basically, love should feel like a Nick Cave song. Even Though Our Love Is Doomed is such a beautiful reassurance that, even though some of us have difficulty with it- we can still love, and it can be warped and twisted but it’s still love. We all find someone who makes us feel this way and you can’t rush it. Maybe you’ll find it now, maybe you already have or maybe it’ll just take time. This vulnerable kind of love is the kind that is good for the soul. The last minute and a half of the song has this huge build up that evokes SUCH urgency. It’s one of the most important Garbage songs ever. Cling tightly onto this one.

Magnetized: Unlike the song before, this one is not a love song of sorts. It’s a lust song. It’s about being hooked on someone without the falling in love part. We’ve all been there. It’s about 2 souls clashing who are polar opposites and sometimes it works out. Maybe love develops but with this one, just being hypnotised by the person is a safer bet than falling in love. Such a simple line, but I adore this: “Get so close that it hurts.” Sometimes you just have to let something like this in and let it hurt you. Go into the unknown and just see what happens. Life would be a bore, a dull ache if we didn’t step into the unknown every so often.

We Never Tell: The heavens have now opened in London, and I can’t think of a better record to play as the rain falls harder and harder. I just went to check on my housemate’s cat to make sure she’s okay. She’s gently napping, so I gave her a kiss on the head. This means nothing to the outsider, but show affection where and when you can. We Never Tell is a great song and I love the lyrics. I really love the line: “We’re on the outside always looking in. You don’t trust humans and I feel the same.” I would take the trust of animals over people any day, and when you find people who get that- that’s when you know. Mutual understanding goes a hell of a long way, especially as people seem to be getting colder. Hey I can’t look after myself but I’m pretty sure I could look after a dog, no problem. We Never Tell is a great “fuck you” to those you want to prove wrong or to those you want to shut up.

So We Can Stay Alive: Gentle vocals but aggressive lyrics and ferocious guitar courtesy of Duke. This is one of the angsty songs I’ve heard in a long time. Sometimes you just need something to bring out that dormant rage that others beg you to tone down. Don’t let nobody in this world make you tone down whatever you feel. Don’t let anyone try tame or change you. Speak up don’t shut up. Call the fuckers out on what they’re doing wrong. I love how rowdy this song is, in all the right places. The guitar kicks in to back up Shirley’s gentle voice. But that gentle voice is unleashing a fury that will make you run. But you better listen up, chump! You can try break a person but they will eventually get their own back when you least expect it. The weak can find strength, in time. In their own time, they get there.

Teaching Little Fingers To Play: I’m trying my best to not make any references to old songs, but for me this sounds like the aftermath of Medication. Of course that self-destructive feeling stays but then something kicks in and you realise you’ve got to do certain things on your own. For me, Teaching Little Fingers To Play has that same fragility as Medication but without wanting to destroy oneself. Instead, this focuses on being able to pick oneself back together again without anyone around. We’re always told we need to have others around to fix us, but sometimes you can do certain things on your own. You can get tough in your own way. This is less co-dependant and more dependent on nobody but yourself. It’s a kick up the arse, in a way. “Nothing ever stays the same.
Youth and beauty don’t remain.”
Gorgeously accurate.

Amends: The last one on the record, sadly. Just play it again. That’s all you can do. A wave of sadness always hits when you reach the end of a record. Me being utterly sentimental, it does bring on a hint of sadness. You don’t want it to end. You want that first moment you listened to keep coming back. Over and over. But fortunately, I get that feeling every time I listen to Garbage. Amends is a beautiful song that deals with any kind of loss you’ve had with a friend, lover, whatever. Sometimes we forgive, sometimes we forget, sometimes we physically cannot do either. The hurt and rawness of being hurt in this song is very close to the bone and my god, you feel the hurt. There’s a part in the song that sums up perfectly how anyone has ever felt. It’s not a nice way to feel, but we’ve all been there: “There is nothing you could say to cause more hurt, or cause me shame. Than all the things that I have thought about myself.”  We are all capable of hurting ourselves more than we can hurt another person, and sometimes it easier to break our own hearts than someone else’s. There’s this dignified rage in this song that is so eloquently put together, and you know what? It’s the perfect ending to the record because it feels like healing. With a lot of their records, the last song on each one does feel like healing. They’ve done it all over again here with Amends.

On Monday I’m seeing them again at the Troxy which is about half hour from my house (thankfully.) It’s one of my favourite venues. There’s still some tickets left. Garbage are the band that have helped in some way make me alright with whoever it is I am. I keep a handful of uncertainty because I’ll never be fully settled with it. If it wasn’t them, I wouldn’t have this inner toughness that I reserve for certain things. Certain things I thought would ruin me in some way. Certain things that make me get a little braver each time. The got me through the pains and torment of school and the uneasy ride of adulthood. There will never ever be a time where I don’t turn to their music for some form of comfort and for that I am truly, truly grateful and forever in debt to them.

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