Sound: Version 2.0 was released in 1998, is Garbage's 2nd album, and follows up their successful 1995 self titled effort. The sound on this album varies from flat-out, no bullshit rock songs like "I Think I'm Paranoid" and "Wicked Ways", to trippy, synth-drenched and pulsating dancers like "Push It" and "Sleep Together", to the just plain wierd ("Hammering in My Head"), and of course no album is complete without a ballad or two ("The Trick is to Keep Breathing", "You Look So Fine"). Though the songs are all unique, they all have that industrial/synth-poppy/trip-hoppy/grunge-punk feel that made Garbage one of a kind in the '90s. Emotions are raw and all over the place, ranging from angry, reflective, sad, frustrated, and even scared and desperate like on the ballad "Medication". All of the lyrics are delivered by lead singer Shirley Manson in her "seductive growl" - as many before myself have called it - complementing the music from Butch Vig, Steve Marker, and Duke Erikson in a fantastic way all throughout the album. Compared to their first album, the tone and feeling of Version 2.0 is a bit lighter, but lacks none of the bite of their self titled debut. // 9
Lyrics: 01. "Temptation Waits": the album opens with a nice drumbeat and a warning from lead singer Shirley Manson: "I'll tell you something: I am a wolf, but I like to wear sheep's clothing". From there it picks up with bass and cymbals and then lifts off into a chorus complete with strange vocal effects and lyrics about being addicted to someone. This is a great album opener, as it sets the mood for all things to come. - Lyrics: 8/10 Music: 8/10
02. "I Think I'm Paranoid" (single): the second single from the album. This song is an emotional roller coaster ride, not just because of the music, but also the way it's sang. The verses are sang in a seductive manner, the pre-chorus sounds angry, and the chorus sounds vulnerable. The intro riff is a melodic guitar driven by a grooving bassline, the pre-chorus is distorted power chord mania, and the chorus nicely complements Manson's vulnerable-type vocal performance. Add a seemingly unforgettable hook into the equation ("I think I'm PARAnoid") - I can never get that out of my head - and you've got a hit single and a badass rock song. - Lyrics: 10/10 Music: 10/10
03. "When I Grow Up" (single): the fourth single from the album. This very poppy little ditty, reminiscent of '60s jukebox dancers and '80s power pop, was featured on the soundtrack of Adam Sandler's movie Big Daddy (appropriate, don't you think?) The guitars in this one carry on a fast paced "wah wah" sound while Manson copies on vocals with "bah bah". "When I Grow Up" is an anthem for promiscuous ("God, I'm pregnant/Damn the consequences"), disenfranchised("Trying hard to fit among you"), unstable("When I grow up, I'll be stable") teens and a good song, plain and simple. - Lyrics: 9/10 Music: 8/10
04. "Medication": the first of three ballads. Shirley Manson: "I'd gotten really sick when I arrived in Madison, and I was really frightened because I was all by myself in a foreign country and I had no idea about how the medical system works here. I was feeling very isolated and very paranoid. I was terrified. I remember I was sitting in the studio waiting on some of the boys arriving, and I was freaked out so I wrote these words out really quickly in two minutes. When the boys came in I said, 'I've got a song and we have to record it now!' It's a reflection on past ills in a way." Slow and simple verses, slow but louder and eerie chorus, this is my favorite ballad on the album. - Lyrics: 10/10 Music: 9/10
05. "Special" (single): the third single from the album. "Special" gives off the vibe not of a pissed off breakup anthem, but more of a disappointed breakup anthem. What gives me this idea, you ask? The chorus: "Do you have an opinion/A mind of your own/I thought you were special..." To me, "Special" is like a fast sad song telling of a relationship gone sour. The song also samples lyrics from the Pretenders' song "Talk of the Town". It's a pretty straightforward guitar/bass/drums song, with some vocal effects thrown in here and there, and another solid one for the album. - Lyrics: 8/10 Music: 8/10
06. "Hammering in My Head": the strangest and most experimental sounding song on the album, "Hammering in My Head" has been suggested to be about a bad relationship or some other generic explanation. But it's also been suggested - this sounds more reasonable to me - to have been written about the band's groupies. With lyrics like "I must be made out of concrete/I sign my name across your chest", "I can't remember your name/I'm growing introverted/You touch my hand but it's not the same", and "I knew you were mine for the taking/Your eyes light up when I walk in the room" it's hard not to take it that way. There's all kinds of noise coming from the band, but good noise that really fits the strangeness of the song. Sang in a low key throughout, even some growling at times ("Sweat it all out"), a nice dance beat, and ending with a long string of idioms and lyrics about ventolin, this should get any Garbage fan's blood pumping. - Lyrics: 9/10 Music: 8/10
07. "Push It" (single): the first single from the album. Butch Vig: "On "Push It", it was how far can we go, to just get so intense. The verses are slow and dreamy and pull you in, and then, of course, it gets very confrontational. The Beach Boys thing was a conscious thing, Shirley just came up with the lyric don't worry baby, and we wanted to try having a vocal chorus answering her. So we had Shirley Manson singing and the Beach Boys answering her. It was amazing." They couldn't get the actual Beach Boys sample, so Manson sang it herself. This is a very intense song and was a big hit for the band. - Lyrics: 9/10 Music: 10/10
08. "The Trick is to Keep Breathing" (single): the joint-fourth single (released only in certain countries) from the album. The second ballad on the album, the title takes its name from a Scottish novel and Manson claimed "the lyrics just came out in like two minutes". The moral of the story in the song is easy to understand - Manson: "It's that general feeling of just keep pushing and you'll get through it. I think everybody can connect with that feeling". Slow and synthy sounding with a great driving bassline and with a second chorus featuring violins that sound like they came from a church choir gone mad, this is yet another solid song for Version 2.0. - Lyrics: 7/10 Music: 9/10
09. "Dumb": I listen to this song mainly for the chorus: "Now that you know what you know/I bet you wish you could let it go/You'll never come sucking your thumb/Better off dumb". All the way through, the song is very bitter and sarcastic, possibly directed at an immature significant other being left behind. The music is great; there's some sort of wierd effect on their guitars in the intro and the music in the rest of the tune fits nicely with the anger of the singing. - Lyrics: 9/10 Music: 8/10
10. "Sleep Together": this one opens with a piano and launches into a strange, atmospheric and faster paced musical experience with great lyrics. The verses are faster paced and louder, as is the bridge, but the chorus sounds almost like a breakdown and the outtro picks up the pace again. The chorus, "If we sleep together, will you like me better?/If we come together, we'll go down forever", will not soon be forgotten thanks to the lyrics and also the way the song slows almost to a stop when it's sang. This is one of my favorite Garbage songs and yet another great song on Version 2.0. - Lyrics: 9/10 Music: 10/10
11. "Wicked Ways": there is ONE Youtube video of the band performing this song live. Manson pulls out a guitar (a rare thing) for this one and before they start playing she announces, "This is a song about infidelity." It's not hard to collect this from the lyrics ("I've tried hard to mend my wicked ways"). The song comes in with a wierd western-type guitar riff and some interesting drumming from Mr. Vig, and normal paced, not-too-loud verses and bridge launch into a pounding chorus with Manson belting lyrics like, "Clutch your pictures of the Pope/Pray to God for love and hope". Not bad. Lyrics: 9/10 Music: 7/10
12. "You Look So Fine" (single): last single from the album. The third and last ballad on Version 2.0 closes the album on a rather morose note and is nearly five and a half minutes long. It wastes no time though. It sounds to me like a love song for a screwed up relationship ("I want to break your heart and give you mine"). I may be wrong - I'm probably wrong. But that's beside the point. The music sounds like slowed down electro-dance with good lyrics put over it. This is a very good song and perfect album closer, as most ballads are. Lyrics: 8/10 Music: 9/10 // 9
Overall Impression: Some of the songs on Version 2.0 could be compared to some of the Doors' early stuff and is even at times similar to Fiona Apple and the Cardigans. Manson's singing is sometimes reminiscent of that of Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, like on the song "Special", which samples the Pretenders' "Talk of the Town". It is tough to compare Garbage to other artists and critics and reviewers have always had a hard time putting them into one single genre.
The best songs on the album for me personally are these: "I Think I'm Paranoid", "Push It", "Sleep Together", "Medication", and "When I Grow Up". I think those are the most original sounding and emotionally and musically powerful songs on Version 2.0.
I love almost everything about this album. The only problem I have with Garbage sometimes is the fact that Ms. Manson hardly ever uses her voice to its full potential. If I lost this album the first thing I would with any extra money I had is go and buy another copy. If it were stolen I would let the thief keep it, tell them to listen to it, then have them give me 8 dollars to go buy another copy. // 10