Bona-fide grunge goddess Shirley Manson and her group of accomplished Wisconsinites are back with their seventh studio album, ‘No Gods No Masters’, unabatedly plunging into political territories not yet traversed by the band in previous years.
Greed is excoriated in ‘The Men Who Rule The World’, as the album's dynamic opening sounds are punctuated by slot machines and hyper-techno samples. Lyrics are peppered with tales allegorising The #MeToo movement, as Manson bites "The king is in the counting house / He’s the chairman of the board / The women who crowd the courtrooms are accused of being whores" then proceeds to demand an end to climate change. For a track with such technical and lyrical dexterity to be delegated as the album opener puts the remaining tracks on an anticipatory pedestal; one that refuses to falter.
‘Waiting For God’ show’s Garbage at their peak vulnerability, possessing elements of Nick Cave’s hyper-literacy and transcendental broodings, whilst maintaining a solid grounding in today’s socio-political realities, as Manson cracks "Smiling at fireworks that light all our skies up / while Black boys get shot in the back". Through this melancholia, Garbage signal a protest of cataclysmic, unchecked racism in its most beastly guise. Draped in industrial synth and driven by Manson’s soul-stirring vocals, ‘Waiting For God’ is the record’s defining track, and signposts the album's proclivity towards darker textures in its second half.
Enter the pulsating ‘A Woman Destroyed’ as Manson delivers a shrill stiletto jab to The Man, reeling "I guess I will be taking my revenge". It would not lay amiss on the soundtrack for Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman, jostling with themes of sexual violence and fear amidst a backdrop of doom-laded bell-tolls and synths. In contrast, The eponymous ‘No Gods No Masters’ is the most radio friendly of the cohort, driven by its dynamic chorus hook, yet still rings with an urgency propelled by a torrent of crunchy electronic guitar riffs. It is a lamentation of frustrations, as the band are simply trying to make sense of the world. The non-linear structure of closer ‘This City Will Kill You’ succeeds in laying bare cinematic undertones that drive the album in its entirety, with suave keyboard plinks and dreamy narratives.
"This is the record I was supposed to make," Manson shared in a recent press note, and this rings true throughout ‘No Gods No Masters’, as it screams quintessential Garbage, maturing into the political elder sister of their 1995 debut. Listening to ‘No Gods No Masters’ feels like listening to Garbage again for the very first time, which is a terrifically thrilling prospect.
Words: Chloe Waterhouse
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