Garbage toured and promoted their debut for a long time. And then they went back in the studio for the follow up. After the success of the first one, the producers evidently tinkered and retinkered and reretinkered with Version 2.0 for ages. I seem to recall Shirley Manson complaining that she had done her parts ages ago and was just waiting for the boys to stop playing with it.
And when they did, it was beautiful. Look at the shiny packaging The album cover was very graphic. All of the singles were very graphic and literally icon-ic. It was an amazing visual assault of a campaign. And the album was like the debut only bigger slicker brasher more. And I loved it.
In retrospect it is still good. Quite good in fact. But when pinpointing why the Garbage of today sounds so different, you can see it in 2.0. The band definitely sounds more poppy, more dancey. And Manson’s voice sounds more confident. Less hidden behind gothy trappings. She’s way out in front and indeed became the central focus of the band (despite the big names of the producers). I was so enamored of Garbage and 2.0 that I never realized quite how poppy 2.0 was compared to the first. The gothy dark side was replaced by a poppier sheen. True, the lyrics were dark, but not quite as angsty (and they were a lot more about sex this time around).
Even though the music sounds similar there is a world of difference in the vocal styles of “Queer” and “I Think I’m Paranoid” which has her doing all kinds of vocal tricks And “When I Grow Up” is practically all pop (with bright bah bah bah bahs). “Medication” has an incredibly sweet section–Shirley’s gentle falsetto singing the “co-dependent” section is the great example of the dichotomy of Garbage.
“Special” is a slinky sexy song that quotes the Pretenders (something that was very cool at the time but which I feel has become something of a crutch for Manson/Garbage–quoting too literally from their sources rather than mashing them up). “Hammering in My Head” has a cool keyboard riff and more of Shirley’s whisper/singing. “Push It” references the Salt-n-Pepa song which is a little weird, but there’s great noisy guitars and slinky bass that makes the song it own.”The Trick is To Keep Breathing “is a the surprise song where the whispered quieter verses turn into a really pretty and prettily sung chorus.
“Sleep Together” plays on that aggressiveness sexuality that Manson is so go at. “Wicked Ways” ends with some really cool sequences (I don’t like the beginning that much for some reason). And the disc ends with “You Look so Fine” a sweet track with a nicely multi-tracked vocal. Although the album and song just kind of drift away at the end.
2.0 is an apt title, more of the same but bigger and sleeker. But it seems to also point them in the direction of more technology that would come next.
[READ: February 5, 2013] “How Long and What a Marvel”
This is a very short story (about a page) and it is a very simple one. But there’s a surprising amount of depth included.
The simple plot is that the narrator’s grandfather died and caused a seven hour delay of game. What’s fascinating is that the game is never specified and I’m not exactly sure what game it might actually be.
The men from Three Mile came to their valley to play the first game of the season. After a big meal, it was customary to start the game by having one of the old men come out, take his bat and challenge the slinger. Many of the old men hadn’t survived the winter, but the narrator’s grandfather had and he went up to bat. He was slow and dragging as he got up there. (This sounds like baseball right? Except the thrower is called a slinger and the innings are called frames. Is it cricket?).
The grandfather hits the ball. Very well, out into the fields. So he goes again. And again. He hits everything the slinger throws and the crows goes wild. Even the slinger is getting tired. Then the grandfather gets tired and lays down. But as soon as the slinger has the ball again, grandfather’s up and ready again.
Until, as the first line said he lays down and doesn’t get up. And that’s what causes the delay.
This story has a very First Americans feel to it. It’s amazing how you can read a story with as much detail as this has and still not know exactly what they were doing. I enjoyed it quite a bit.