It’s probably not fair to automatically peg Garbage’s new song, “Battle In Me,” as ’90s revival nostalgia, especially considering how modern and in-yr-face it sounds. But what else are we supposed to think about their first new music since 2005’s Bleed Like Me, a layover which saw the most dramatic upheaval of guitar rock since the grunge movement that first inspired Garbage’s existence? “Battle In Me” could plug into their old discography like nothing ever happened. Over thrashing squalls of distortion and drums mastered inside of a jet turbine, Shirley Manson wails lyrics like “I’ll be damned if I’m done” as the music snaps in and out like some post-dubstep appeal to The Kids, wherever they may be. There have to be some scattered legions of Garbage loyalists around the country (including us), patiently waiting for a return like this. Well, it’s time to pay attention.
Why is this song so intense, and not mellowed out in the way you’d expect a band heading into middle age to sound? Talking to Vanity Fair about the long time in between albums, Manson was blunt. “I had a collection of songs that I thought were really strong,” she said. “I took them in [and] played them for the record company. They weren’t interested. They told me they were too dark. They wanted me to have international radio hits and ‘be the Annie Lennox of my generation.’ I kid you not; I am quoting directly. I just thought, Fuck this.” Hence the whole “I’ll be damned if I’m done,” I’m guessing. Not Your Kind of People, Garbage’s new album, is out on May 14.