I desperately wanted to see Garbage and Alanis before the pandemic. That tour ended up happening this year (sadly without Liz Phair opening), but I ended up passing on going to the Tampa show. An outdoor show in August in Florida, and with the Covid situation being worse in Orlando, it just didn't seem like something I wanted to do. (Also, I hate that drive and I'm not even sure who I would go with.) I stupidly missed them last time they came to Orlando. I've seen them six times, and they're always fantastic. In fact, I like to be a hipster and mention that I saw them at their 11th show ever, in late 1995 in Cleveland.
They released No Gods No Masters in June, and it seems conspicuous that I haven't talked much about it. It's their third post-hiatus album, and it's just... different. It still sounds like a Garbage album, and there are a few songs I like, but I can't deeply get into it. I love that it's political as ever, but it's almost too literal in its approach. I agree with where Shirley is coming from, but some songs sound more like an angry Internet rant than art. When I talk myself through that complaint, I still end up in a place of, well, maybe this isn't a time for subtlety.
To be clear, I don't hate the album, and I adore the title track. There are a lot of fantastic sounds there, and creativity that I love the band for. I even got some Nine Inch Nails vibes the first time I listened. The deluxe version has some great bonuses I already had, like "No Horses" and their "Because The Night" cover with the Screaming Females. I especially love the "Starman" Bowie cover.
I might be less enthusiastic because Wolf Alice's Blue Weekend came out around the same time, and that's one of the best albums from anyone period that I've heard in years. Also, and this might be controversial, but I think that Garbage's previous album, Strange Little Birds, is easily their second best after their debut. Every song is great. "So We Can Stay Alive" just makes me lose my shit, and "Amends" is full of epic noise. These are six minute plus masterpieces, genuine album rock, which I miss hearing on the radio.
I'm fairly certain that I need to give No Gods No Masters more time, for sure. This has been a good year for albums, with winners from Foo Fighters, Grouplove, Lorde and others. And yeah, that Wolf Alice album.