Four years since their last record Not Your Kind Of People, alt-rock grungers Garbage are back with their sixth studio album, the emotion fuelled Strange Little Birds. Released under their own record label Stunvolume, singer Shirley Manson has aimed to keep things fresh, going with her gut and doing what she, and the band, pleased.
Strange Little Birds is the killer soundtrack to emotional acceptance, with Manson exposing her own emotions to the world. It’s done in a way that suggests it’s quite alright to admit feelings of weakness and not hide behind a façade of happiness. One song that encapsulates this concept is the track ‘Empty’. Need we go on? The name itself is extremely suggestive of the song’s themes but, of course, there’s a lot more to it than that. The lyrical content of frustration, falling behind and not being the best we can be, is accompanied by raging riffs and an anthemic energy, confirming that initial idea of what is to come and propelling it to new heights. ‘Empty’ captures perfectly Manson’s perception that there’s not enough darkness in today’s pop music; it’s all dancing and being foolish, with little grasp on reality. Strange Little Birds, however, is all about breaking the rules, showing that we don’t always have to hide behind a false smile, that it’s okay to express our feelings.
Elements of heartbreak, or at least fragile moments of romance, stream through the entire album. From the cries of “Sometimes I believe that I might die // If I lost you” in ‘If I Lost You’ to the “I’m magnetised by you” in ‘Magnetised’, there are hints towards those people on whom we rely to keep us going. The straightforward lyrical form offers a true, relatable feeling by getting straight to the point of the emotion, instead of over playing it with overzealous metaphors. Sometimes it just takes a blunt statement to make you think – “actually this is entirely normal, my feelings don’t make me a terrible person”.
Imagery is not always to do with the symbolism of a song, sometimes just the general theme is enough to put a picture in your head and Garbage hit the nail on the head with this album. Strange Little Birds is effortlessly poetic, creativity in its rawest form.
Strange Little Birds is out now via Stunvolume.