GARBAGE Version 2.0 (Mushroom)
GARBAGE I Think Im Paranoid (Mushroom)
Garbages eponymous debut album shifted four million copies worldwide, testament to the commercial nous of a band that includes Nirvana and Sonic Youth producer Butch Vig and former Goodbye Mr McKenzie vocalist Shirley Manson amongst their number. So, with nothing to lose and nothing to prove, they unleash "Version 2.0", from title to cover art to music a blatantly refurbished, tweaked and bug-fixed iteration of the original.
So this time round the tone is a little poppier (or a lot poppier, in the case of the albums bestest track, the frothy "When I Grow Up"), a touch more cod philosophical ("The Trick Is To Keep Breathing", which lifts its title from the book by the Scottish author Janice Galloway, and appears to revisit similar territory to R.E.M.s "Try Not To Breathe"), a wee bit more experimental (the strings on "Medication") but essentially the same conveniently packaged, enjoyable if ultimately disposable grunge/goth-lite that they served up in 1995. In interviews they actually seem proud of the fact that theyve managed to incorporate Beach Boys and Pretenders steals into their songs, and regard the title as ironic. Hmmm.
"Version 2.0" is a good album, but is the work of a band that have spent the last three years standing still - something they do exquisitely well, it must be admit - but think what music would be like today if, for example, The Beatles had spent their entire career releasing improved versions of "Please Please Me" every six months.
"I Think Im Paranoid", meanwhile, is the second four minute slab of "Version 2.0" to be released into the community and left to fend for itself, and, like much of its parent album, its a pleasant enough concoction of samples, scratching, effects, loops and reels, with a Unique Selling Point in the form of a steal from Amen Corners "Bend Me Shape Me". (Unique Selling Points aint what they used to be, by the looks of things.) But it hardly runs on the same steel wheels of confusion as "Finished with my woman/Cos she couldnt help me with my mind, and still they obstinately refuse to release the albums surefire summer hit "When I Grow Up" as a single. Doh.
GARBAGE Special (Mushroom)
The promotional machinery that surrounds Garbages second album churns inexorably onwards, spitting out "Special", the third single to be extracted from "Version 2.0", and accompanied by ridiculous amounts of press release spiel (four A4 pages! for a single!!) as it crushes all before it. Underneath what is a pleasant little tune in their currently preferred goth-electro-lite style, which incorporates the now traditional musical tribute - in this case to Chrissie Hynde, with the chorus of "Talk Of The Town" sneaking into the fadeout. The remainder of this three tracker is padded out by the not-at-all-bad "13 x Forever", which smacks of being a whole lot more experimental than anything on the album, and a Brothers In Rhythm mix of the title track, which couldve been a lot worse and neatly demonstrates just how, uh, pliable Garbages music is. But when oh when oh when are they going to concede to common sense and release "When I Grow Up" as a single?
GARBAGE You Look So Fine (Mushroom)
With crushing inevitability, here come the fifth single from Garbage's "Version 2.0" album, and "You Look So Fine" has the same kind of desperation hanging heavy around it as when R.E.M. were reduced to releasing the likes of "Find The River" for absolutely no apparent reason whatsoever - terrific song though it is, it was hardly ever going to set the daytime playlists on fire. And so it is with "You Look So Fine", the melancholic closer from "Version 2.0", which sounds just too maudlin and minor-key to even begin to compete with whatever else may be in the charts at the moment, especially when compared to the aptly-titled new track "Get Busy With The Fizzy" which follows it on the CD I was sent. Third track is an Eric Kuepper Deep Drama Mix of the main feature, which is, er, long. Let's be honest, this is not exactly a dramatic reinvention on Garbage's part, but when would you ever have expected that?