Shirley Manson

Version 2.0

You?ll find extra effervescence in Garbage?s new release, “Version 2.0.” The first single, ”Push It,” floats the dreamy chorus line of the Beach Boys? ”Don?t Worry Baby” over a spy theme swanky enough for John Barry. ”When I Grow Up” hovers a breathy refrain à la Blondie around a pulverizing beat, while ”I Think I?m Paranoid” lets electronic machines pound riffs with all the cruelty of power chords. In that last track, Garbage allude to the campy ?60s hit by the American Breed, ”Bend Me, Shape Me,” adding electronic pings that could come only from a record of the moment.

Everywhere they can, the foursome push the improbable, mixing the ghostly sound of a theremin with serrated guitars or working up a series of screeches and bleats into a sturdy pop bridge. But it?s Shirley Manson?s persona that makes these songs more than just clever exercises in avant-pop. With her breathy tone and huffy delivery, she?s Nancy Sinatra walking all over you, or Chrissie Hynde demanding that you stop all your sobbing. In the song ?Special,?? Manson not only alludes to Hynde in the title but mimics her breathiness. Like Hynde, Manson uses that haughtiness as an ironic admission of need.

Manson?s lyrics revel in those contradictions. In the opening track, ”Temptation Waits,” she calls herself a wolf, a demon, and a vampire, but only to hook someone she?s mad for. In the final ”You Look So Fine,” she brings the irony to a boil, braying ”You look so fine/I want to break your heart/And give you mine.” That?s one of rock?s seminal mixed messages?the tough come-on hiding a heartache. How great to find it matched to music that makes rock dynamics sound new again and fronted by a singer who reminds pop of something it forgot: A hard woman is good to find.

Version 2.0
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