“The men who rule the world have made a fucking mess” snarls Shirley Manson at the beginning of Garbage’s seventh studio album, setting the tone for the rest of ‘No Gods No Masters’. ‘Political album’ is a label that instantly puts off a large swathe of listeners and it’s one that has been applied endlessly to Garbage’s latest album. But if you can look past any preconceived assumptions that come with that label, you’ll be rewarded with a layered, righteously angry LP.
Garbage’s political statements stick the landing, far more than they miss. ‘The Men Who Rule The World’ is a fiery political statement that echoes the radical sentiment the album’s title would suggest (“Hate the violator / destroy the violator”) and alludes to recent events like the Kavanaugh hearings (“The women who crowd the courtrooms / All accused of being whores”). It shifts, with startling intensity, from the personal to the political – and the intrinsic link between the two. There’s a startling, dramatized intensity as Manson sings “Stuck inside my head / Stuck inside my head / All the fucking time”. There’s a sense of catharsis and empowerment in the track that differs significantly from run-of-the-mill, modern-day political anthems that hopelessly lament the current state of the world. Instead, ‘The Men Who Rule The World’ is a call to arms, an endorsement of taking action into your own hands and destroying the “violators”. It, like much of ‘No Gods No Masters’ treads a revolutionary footpath that was all the rage during the peak of Garbage’s fame, but is now kept alive by far less mainstream artists like ‘Run The Jewels’.
Concentrating too hard on the political themes of ‘No Gods No Masters’ however does an injustice to just how sonically enjoyable the album is. Epics synths, guitars and drums make for Garbage’s best album this century. ‘No Gods No Masters’ greatest victory, ultimately, is not a political one, but a personal one: it proves beyond doubt that Garbage are no heritage artists.
Best Tracks: ‘The Men Who Rule The World’, ‘The Creeps’, ‘Wolves’, ‘Anonymous XXX’, ‘Waiting For God’, ‘Flipping The Bird’, ‘This City Will Kill You’
Worst Tracks: ‘Godhead’