Garbage – No Gods No Masters (Album Review)

Garbage – No Gods No Masters
Released: June 11th, 2021

Line Up:

Shirley Manson – Vocals
Duke Erikson – Guitar, Bass, Keyboards
Steve Marker – Guitar, Keyboards
Butch Vig – Drums, Production

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‘The men who rule the world/ Have made a fucking mess/ The history of power/ The worship of success/ King is in the counting house/ Chairman of the board/ The women who crowd the courtrooms/ Accused of being whores’

These are the lines from ‘The Men Who Rule the World’, the opening song on Garbage’s newest album, No Gods No Masters and it very much sets the tone for the latest work from one of the 90s most recognisable bands. This is not a pretty album. In fact, it’s practically a cry of rage. Shirley Manson has had enough. She’s had enough of the world, of the men who run it, who have held themselves at a higher level to everyone else, who have belittled and sexualised women, that have held on to racist beliefs and more than anything, do all this in the name of a god that suits their own needs.

Garbage is not messing around on No Gods No Masters.

Firstly, this album sounds fantastic and when you have one of the best producers in the world in Butch Vig as a member, then he is going to ensure that any album he touches sounds huge.

Secondly, Garbage have not just decided that 2021 is the year when they’re going to sound angry and pissed off. There were elements of that throughout their work from 1995 and the release of their self-titled debut album. It’s just that this album, Garbage, especially singer and lyricist Shirley Manson, are not going to sugar-coat anything. From beginning to end, they’re letting the world know that things are not quite right.

And Shirley, especially has two targets in her sights: God and Men.

However, this album is about power, and those that wield it, misuse it and hold on to it for as long as it takes. And it’s about those that suffer at the hands of those that have it.

No Gods No Masters starts with ‘The Men Who Rule the World‘ and over the album’s 11 songs, they cover a range of topics from the non-existence of God, the abuse of power of men over women, #MeToo, eating disorders, Black Lives Matter, and revenge.

I have to admit that as I listened to this album, and as the old white bloke on the team here at WOS, I was initially reluctant to review this album. It’s confronting stuff, and I didn’t feel that I could do this justice. Songs such as ‘Godhead‘ with its lyrics of ‘If I had a dick / Would you know it / If I had a dick / Would you blow it?’, and ‘Call me a bitch / I’m a terrorist’; about men who have gotten away with it for a long time, and who continue to get away with it. ‘Anonymous XXX‘ describes a paid sexual encounter and the dehumanising process of it. ‘A Woman Destroyed‘ is about a man who leaves his wife for a much younger woman with its vengeful lyrics of ‘Lock your door / Keep your lights on / Lock your door / Get a guard dog / I guess I’ll be taking my revenge’. ‘Flipping the Bird‘ tackles a woman getting completely negged by her partner.

I didn’t, and to be honest, still don’t know, if I can do this album justice. I felt it needed a female perspective as this is one of the most feminine records I’ve ever heard. And it’s terrific. The songs are so well crafted, performed and produced with a great balance of the atmospheric to some amazing eighties-style production, especially on songs like the title track and ‘Wolves‘.

This is not a negative record. Yes, it is a shout of rage and I believe very resonant for this country where we have sexual assaults in the highest office, with no one facing any real consequences and with the leader hiding behind the idea that he has a wife and daughters and that should be enough to generate some kind of empathy.

Shirley Manson and Garbage are saying, “We Should Be Better Than This”

There will be those that will argue that this is an anti-male record, and that Garbage have gone too woke. But in reality, it’s an anti-power record, and that power needs to be held to account. Listen and I mean listen to what’s being sung throughout this album and the conversations Garbage are creating around these societal issues.

Garbage – No Gods No Masters tracklisting

  1. The Men Who Rule The World
  2. The Creeps
  3. Uncomfortably Me
  4. Wolves
  5. Waiting For God
  6. Godhead
  7. Anonymous XXX
  8. A Woman Destroyed
  9. Flipping The Bird
  10. No God No Masters
  11. This City Will Kill You

Rating: 8/10
No Gods No Masters is out Friday June 11th via Liberator Music. Pre-Order here
Review by Dan Brixey

Revisit our interview with frontwoman Shirley Manson chatting all things No Gods No Masters below

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