Like the generic software upgrade its name was intended to satirize, Garbage’s Version 2.0 improves on their wildly-successful eponymous debut in small and familiar ways. The hits download a little quicker. The songs interface more smoothly and move more intuitively from one interface to the next. Still, the total sound and feel of 2.0 stays firmly within the slightly disturbing, yet always memorable, sonic platform Garbage fans have come to expect.
“I Think I’m Paranoid,” explores several catchy new grooves while reprising the insouciant approach to psychosis which made the first album’s “I’m Only Happy When it Rains” such a gripping post-pop anthem. On back to back beat stompers, “Medication” and “Special,” Manson’s gift for making moments of sonic intimacy out of larger than myth angst transform two wistful vehicles, dangerously overloaded with self-pity, into soaring birds of triumph. “Wicked Ways,” an edgy, near-blues gem, oozes enough trad-rock authenticity to stand out from the introductory electronicisms elsewhere on the disc like a star sapphire among computer chips. Into “Push It,” an otherwise crispish, feedback-enriched ditty loaded with the nocturnal persistence and sensual urgency present in every song around which the divine Ms. M wraps her breathy, disarming vocals, Garbage has interpolated the chorus of “Don’t Worry Baby,” the Beach Boys’ early nineteen sixtysomething hit. Version 2.0 finishes with Manson as woman/child and eternal siren delicately beckoning listeners to come back on “You Look So Fine.”
The pink feathered boa, which appeared on the first album cover and which became a must-have grrrl accessory after having been draped across Manson’s alabaster shoulders in a video or two, has passed into history. Adorning the CD cover this time is a swatch of iridescent orange cloth quilted into tight squares. In interior photos, Manson vogues in a form-fitting jacket made of the same material. Knockoffs of the jacket will be appearing soon on high school campuses worldwide.
On the same inner CD page, Manson bares, before God and everybody, those creamy white, defiant, unmistakably fetching teeth. Gaps and fillings glare out, naked under the klieg lights. Apparently, as effective and musically strong as this new CD is, upgrades for Version 2.0 didn’t include dental work