More magic from Garbage
By Jane Stevenson

What do you get when you combine a feisty Scottish singer who possesses raw talent and charisma with a studio-savvy trio of one superproducer and his two friends from Madison, Wisconsin?

Well, it's a far cry from Garbage, but that's exactly what this quartet, fronted by the formidable Shirley Manson, call themselves. Think of them as Blondie meets Hole, for lack of a better comparison.

After making musical magic on their critically-acclaimed 1995 debut, Manson and the trio of producer Butch Vig (Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth, Soul Asylum), Duke Erikson and Steve Marker are back with one of the most anticipated albums of the year.

Good thing it's an excellent collection of noisy, smart pop -- such as the first single, Push It -- with loads of darkness on other songs such as I Think I'm Paranoid, When I Grow Up, Medication, Hammering In My Head, Dumb and Sleep Together.

Fans will notice that Version 2.0, in stores Tuesday, isn't that huge of a departure for the Garbage gang, with more of the same heavily-textured sounds and dance melodies bolstered by Manson's deep-voiced croon that's a cross between Deborah Harry and Chrissie Hynde.

The big difference this time out is the power of the slower, moodier songs, like The Trick Is To Keep Breathing and the album-ending You Look So Fine, which is the prettiest song of the bunch.

The band likes to emphasize the collective nature of their songwriting, but Manson emerges as the album's chief lyricist on Version 2.0.

Her confrontational take is evident from the get-go with the album opener, Temptation Waits, which begins, "I'll tell you something, I am a wolf but I like to wear sheep's clothing, I am a bold fire, I am a vampire, I'm waiting for my moment."


Then there's her more direct approach on Sleep Together: "If we sleep together, will you like me better, if we cum together, we'll go down forever."

Garbage plays the Phoenix on May 24 for a show that sold out in a mere 12 minutes.

I don't think they could be any hotter.