SOUNDTRACK: GARBAGE-Bleed Like Me (2005).
What happens when you take something slick and shiny and remove the shine? You get something slick and dull. And that’s the overall feel of Garbage’s fourth album. After the dance pop of Beautiful Garbage, Bleed Like Me was d described as a return to the rock roots of Garbage. And it’s true that there’s a lot more guitar. But as in the production of Beautiful, the guitars feel really anemic–again, coming from Bitch Vig who made Nirvana’s guitars roar, this is a major surprise.
Worse than the production though s the utterly generic feel of the songs and the lyrics. Manson was most powerful when she was personal. Even if the songs were oblique, you knew they were about something. But these songs just feel like words, and she sings them as if they were just words.
The single was “Why Do You Love Me” and it opens with a powerful heavy metal guitar riff. But the verses quiet down and the chorus is fast but without any oomph. It’s quickly forgotten and even the lyrics: “Why do you love me it’s driving me crazy” don’t really make you want to learn more about it. ”Run Baby Run” had potential for a radio friendly hit but it’s also quickly forgotten.
Then there’s the songs that seem to be about something. ”Sex is Not the Enemy” seems like it could be transgressive but it’s really not–it feels like a last stand from a beaten person rather than a rocking anthem. Musically it’s mediocre and even lyrically it’s not that shocking/surprising.
“Boys Wanna Fight” brings some of that electronic feel back and it injects some life into the disc, but again the song isn’t that inspiring.
I wonder how much I would have liked this album without the history behind it. I know that bands need to experiment and try different things, but it felt like Garbage fell especially far from the heights that I held them. Garbage tool a pretty lengthy hiatus after this album–Shirley went into acting (catch her on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) and it seemed like the band was finished.
[READ: February 7, 2010] “Zusya on the Roof”
I read a story with a very similar setup recently (not implying that Krauss read it or anything). In Russell Banks’ story “Christmas Party” a divorced man goes to his ex-wife’s new house and takes her newborn baby and… the story ends. [Spoiler, sort of]. This story has a similar arc. And I guess I don’t understand this arc. Or maybe, although I’m usually okay with endings that are vague, when you have a person with a baby, there are so many different possible endings that not leaning in one way or the other is just unfair–yes we can get clues from the story, but one never fully knows what a person’s intentions are.
This story also relies a lit on Jewish tradition. And I find a lot of Orthodox behavior inscrutable (as Zusya seems to). So I tend to get lost in the traditions. Especially when, as in this story, names are used to indicate a tradition that I simply don;t know (and yes, this is my fault, not the author’s, unless she wanted to appeal to a goyish crowd).
So in this story, Zusya is about to become a grandfather. But he falls ill just as his grandson is about to be born. In his haze of hospital care, the grandson is born and he imagines that he gave birth to the boy–a kind of my life for his deal. And when the grandfather recovers, he has strong emotional ties to the boy.
The subplot is that his daughter is a lesbian, and she is clearly bucking all traditions. Which is what Zusya did when he stopped binding himself for prayers (something his father did until he died). There is also some question about using the Moses basket (which I’d never heard of) because the tradition was foolish in the 21st century.
The story culminates in a scene at the boy’s bris. The room is a huge conflict of tradition and nontradition–a Moses basket and circumcision but a female mohel and lesbian parents (with the sperm donor present–I really liked the idea that the boy’s two male relatives were there: his grandfather and the sperm donor).
SO this is one of those stories that I enjoyed parts of quite a bit but which overall left me a little flat.
As always, Karen has done more research that I did, but she finds the story falls a little flat as well.