Written by Rachel Parris


Rated or Dated: Garbage

Standard Issue writers have been revisiting an album/film/book/TV series to see if it’s stood the test of time. This week Rachel Parris re-immerses herself in the broiling teenage grumpathon that is Garbage’s 1995 debut.

garbage 1

What and why: This was the debut album from the brooding rock group that sent a million teenage Manson*-wannabes into paroxysms of angst-ridden fandom.

Garbage spent a year in the charts and includes the Grammy-nominated top ten hit Stupid Girl  to be played in discos for eternity  as well as Queer, which we all loved singing along to while pretending we were edgy and tortured and misunderstood. The 1995 album was critically acclaimed; the band created a sound somewhere between rock and pop but the songs had a darker edge. As Manson once said: “Sometimes I’m a wee bit creepy and that definitely comes out in the music”. She wasn’t wrong.

*Shirley, that is. Not Charles.

garbage 2Rated or dated: I really thought this might be a blind spot of my youth. At 13 (when I first acquired the album) I wanted so very badly to be Shirley Manson. I wanted to be sexy and unattainable and fierce.

As it was I was blonde and shy and nerdy and secretly terrified of never being asked out by a boy.

But when I was mouthing along to the slow, drawn out undertones of Milk I didn’t care about boys or my stupid body or having cool clothes; for those few brief but glorious minutes I was Shirley and I didn’t give a fuck.

You would think that once you remove yourself from that heady, broiling teenage mess of insecurities the album might not have the same impact: but you’d be wrong.

RATED. It still scores. The tracks are remarkably diverse. That initial hit of Supervixen that first silent punch in the opening bars  is still original; still surprising. Stupid Girl is as catchy as it ever was and Vow sounds as pleasingly furious and mosh inducing as it did 20 (20!) years ago.

 “You burned me out but I’m back at your door/Like Joan of Arc coming back for more”.

Yes of course this first album was a product of its time. Butch Vig, the band’s drummer, had produced Nevermind by Nirvana a few years earlier and Garbage was made in the wake of Cobain’s death. It sounds like anger and rebellion and vagrancy and sex. That’s why I loved it when I was 13 and to be honest that’s why I’ve found myself loving it again now.

I haven’t changed. I still want to be Shirley Manson.


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Written by Rachel Parris

Rachel Parris is a comedian, musician, actor and improviser. She is best known for her award-winning musical comedy songs, presenting Thronecast on Sky Atlantic and improvising in hit show Austentatious. @rachelparris