Beautifulgarbage is the third album recorded and released by the band Garbage, and it was released on October 2, 2001. This album is definitely one of the most sonically diverse that the band has released during their career. The album incorporates influences from 1950s doo wop, as heard on “Can’t Cry These Tears,” as well as from music released in the 1970s and 1980s, as heard on “Til the Day I Die” and “Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!).” There are also laid-back ballads like “Cup of Coffee” and “Driving You Home.” There’s also even songs that can be classified as “typical Garbage,” as heard on “Shut Your Mouth” and “Silence is Golden.” However, while it may seem at first glance that this is an eclectic mix of influences and sounds, the songs are arranged and mixed in such a way that they flow together and fit well together on the same album.
The opening song, “Shut Your Mouth,” sonically sounds like what you’d expect from Garbage; however, it contains more swearing than you’d normally expect from them. “Androgyny” was the lead-off single for Beautifulgarbage, and it takes the typical Garbage sound and tries to make it sound more “pop friendly.” “Can’t Cry These Tears” takes a 1950s doo wop influence and adds a modern sound and production quality to that influence. “Til the Day I Die” incorporates some “record scratching” sounds into it, and lead singer Shirley Manson utilizes the lower registers of her voice more than usual on this track.
“Cup of Coffee” is a laid-back ballad, and the keyboards and strings are much more prominent than the drums and guitars that you would normally associate with Garbage. “Silence Is Golden” sounds more like a “typical” Garbage song; however, the guitar part sounds a little too reminiscent of Aerosmith’s “Cryin’.” “Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)” is an upbeat danceable song, which processes Shirley’s voice to make it sound higher than it normally would. When I hear “Breaking up the Girl,” it makes me think of the 1960s both sonically and in Shirley’s vocal delivery.
“Drive You Home” is a laid-back ballad that focuses a lot on an acoustic guitar sound. “Parade” picks the tempo of Beautifulgarbage back up; for this song, Shirley’s vocal delivery evokes the 1960s, while sonically, it sounds influenced by the 1980s. “Nobody Loves You” is another laid-back ballad, and stylistically, it reminds me of “Milk,” a song from Garbage’s self-titled debut album. Of all the songs on the album, I think “Nobody Loves You” is the weakest and should have been left off of the album.
“Untouchable” has more of a Latin feel to the song, due to how the strings and the percussion sound in the song; however, the vocal delivery sounds more like it was influenced by modern urban music. “So Like a Rose,” the final song on Beautifulgarbage, is the longest song on the album. It’s a laid-back ballad that’s a bit on the boring side; however, it does sound like it should be the closing song of an album.
The CD is enhanced with the “beautifulgarbage mixer.” Personally, I thought this feature was rather limited, and the interface was cumbersome. I think the enhanced portion could have been left off of the CD without hurting anything.
Overall, Beautifulgarbage is a strong album, but I think it would’ve been stronger without “Nobody Loves You” and the enhanced portion of the disc. I would recommend Beautifulgarbage to a Garbage collector, and I would also encourage people not familiar with the band to give this album a listen.
(written by Lesley Aeschliman on November 18, 2002)