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Garbage’s Beautiful Garbage album receives a very welcome 20th anniversary reissue

This re-release of Garbage’s third LP brings a new appreciation to a previously overlooked album.
Garbage -- Beautiful Garbage album cover art

GARBAGE
BEAUTIFUL GARBAGE
UMe (3-CD Deluxe, 3-LP Deluxe, 2-LP)
Four Stars

By John Curley

Garbage’s third album, Beautiful Garbage, was originally released only a few weeks after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks and was somewhat overlooked at that time. So, this 20th anniversary reissue of the album that includes bonus tracks is very welcome. It is a worthwhile piece of work. The Deluxe version of the set includes the original album, a disc of B-sides and live material and a third disc featuring remixes. A booklet containing the lyrics to the original album’s songs also comes with the set.

The lead track of Beautiful Garbage makes it clear right away that it was a shame that this album did not get its proper due 20 years ago. “Shut Your Mouth” is a funky, grungy track with a strong and direct vocal by Shirley Manson. That is followed by “Androgyny,” a song that, in 2001, was really ahead of its time and seems quite timely today. It’s a synth-driven track with a great vocal by Manson.

The album’s standout track is “Can’t Cry These Tears.” Parts of it sound like a 1960s girl-group song while others bring to mind 1990s alt-rock. There’s a spoken-word bit from Manson in the song’s midsection.

“Til The Day I Die” is a dance track with strong guitars. It makes very effective use of Manson’s electronically distorted vocal toward the end of the song. “Cup of Coffee” is a nice, softer track featuring keyboard and Manson’s measured vocal. “Silence Is Golden” follows the loud / quiet / loud dynamic. While the heavy bits somewhat bury Manson’s vocal, her voice increases in power in the song’s midsection and drives the song home.

The pop song “Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!) is a synth-driven track with a sexy Manson vocal at its center. It bounces from classic pop style to synth pop to grungy guitars toward the end of the song. “Breaking Up The Girl” is a vocal showcase for Manson that also has great backing by the band. “Drive You Home” is a relaxed tune with a hushed Manson vocal. It’s quite good.

“Nobody Loves You” starts off as an off-kilter, guitar-led track. It becomes a synth-dominated song when Manson’s measured vocal kicks in. The result is very effective. Closing track “So Like A Rose” is a bit of a dirge at the beginning prior to Manson’s quiet vocal coming in. It’s atmospheric and sounds like a song that should play over the closing credits of a good film.

Of the bonus tracks, there are several standouts. “Candy Says” is a mellow song with a dreamlike vocal by Manson and nice guitar work. It’s very strong for a B-side and should have been on the album. “Enough Is Never Enough” is another stellar bonus track that should have been on the album. It’s a guitar-heavy rock song with a powerful Manson vocal. It becomes more synth dominated in the second verse. And the standout acoustic version of “Breaking Up The Girl” is quite arguably better than the version that made the final cut for the album.

Among the bonus tracks there is also an excellent live version of “Shut Your Mouth” as well as interesting live covers of the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses” and U2’s “Pride (In The Name Of Love).”

A visualizer for the rough cut of “Androgyny” that is among the bonus tracks can be seen below: