Garbage's Anthology: a quarter of a century of pushing boundaries and brutal, beautiful trash

Tech-rock masters Garbage lay out their full blueprint on (mostly) career-spanning Anthology

Garbage: Anthology cover art
(Image: © BMG)

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The godparents of much of today's left field electro-pop, from Paramore to Halsey,  it's easy to think of Garbage as an immovable electro-rock object, cast in titanium in 1996. This chronological 35-song (on CD, 20 on vinyl) collection of singles and prime cuts from their seven albums (although no Supervixen – why?), however, tell a different story. Here is more of a T-1000 Terminator of a band, as fluid in their future-rock as the gender-free inhabitants of 2001's toilet free-for-all Androgyny.

True, the tracks from their self-titled 1995 debut seem to perfect a brand of goth-tainted, synthetic electro-rock, like a better-oiled Nine Inch Nails, that has come to define the band. On Vow and Only Happy When it Rains they evolved grunge-pop into psychedelic industrial realms, and amid then mechanised indie dance of Queer and Stupid Girl you can almost hear the three production boffins fusing behind Shirley Manson's seductive snarls. 

By the time of I Think I'm Paranoid and When I Grow Up from 1995's Version 2.0, though, they're formulating Optimus Prime's idea of bubblegum pop, as if they've uploaded The Pretenders, The Primitives and Strawberry Switchblade. Their 1999 Bond theme The World Is Not Enough acts as peak for their early period mecha-pop largesse, and they slip into a refined electro pop era around Beautiful Garbage and Breaking Up The Girl.

As later material continued to push at the boundaries, though – particularly on Al chamber-pop track Bleed Like Me, space-pop mothership Tell Me Where lt Hurts, the tech-reggae Blood For Poppies and the robo-Patti Smith No Horses – Garbage’s melodic panache never falters, and Manson's snaking attacks on cheating husbands, oppressive regimes and capitalist patriarchies never lose their bite. Beautiful brutality, gleaming trash.

Mark Beaumont

Mark Beaumont is a music journalist with almost three decades' experience writing for publications including Classic Rock, NME, The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Times, Uncut and Melody Maker. He has written major biographies on Muse, Jay-Z, The Killers, Kanye West and Bon Iver and his debut novel [6666666666] is available on Kindle.