A vivacious modern punk exorcism
Garbage fills your ears once again with their newest album, No Gods No Masters. The band’s seventh studio album blends the infamous pop-rock punk style with a few new techniques. Acclaimed singer Shirley Manson returns to the mic with more bombastic energy and a vivacious attitude. But on a foundational level, this new album is filled with the intensity of emotional turmoil and attempt to resolve. The album’s namesake track is what makes this ring true, reaching a tumultuous and poignant post-punk style with a certain nostalgic attitude.
On Manson’s hazily singing of “Waiting for God to show up/ we’re keeping our fingers crossed” in “Waiting for God,” there’s an unprecedented acceptance that divine intervention may never arrive. The vocals evoke contemplation on a spiritual level, suddenly resurfacing realizations of catastrophic events. A tense and unforgiving atmosphere accompanies this listening experience to create a certain sonic oppressiveness (without oppressing the listener), but it’s worth it. On the contrary, “Godhead” shatters this emotion with a startling bassline and accented synth, carving a certain rigidity of which its grooves are read by Manson.
Garbage has maintained its edge in this album with songs like “Wolves,” which dips its toes into grunge-rock and a bit of the band’s past. On “The Men Who Rule the World,” Manson exclaims, “the men who rule the world have made a fuckin’ mess.” The poignant expressiveness of her vocals further sears her frustration with every pitch change in her voice. “Flipping the Bird” signals to Garbage’s past as a group, resurfacing melodies and sounds from an alternate version of their current self.
Garbage has often stuck with heavy punk rhythms, but the techniques employed in No Gods No Masters stretch the rhythm and slow the tempo occasionally, creating the eerie atmosphere that emerges within their music. “Anonymous XXX” packs a bit more gusto, pushing actualizations in a more mellow and contemplative manner, but it’s an ideal scapegoat of this elongated rhythm tactic. “A Woman Destroyed” suspends an eerie chorus—almost too long—while illustrating a compassionate portrait through Manson’s voice. While it remains dark, the track flips on itself infrequently in a beam of light. Bells ring in a somber tone throughout, but their ring is muffled in a swift motion.
Their new album packs zest as Garbage tackles societal oppression with a personal touch. No Gods No Masters is dynamic and almost malleable, able to be bent and shaped into what each listener might desire. The tracks are strong and resonate with the listener, creating a certain emotional exorcism that draws people in.