Single Review: Garbage “Androgyny”

Year: 2001
Album: Beautifulgarbage

Jose, a dedicated fan of Garbage, shut down his thorough website in November 2002.

In a letter to the fans who visited his website, he wrote:

“Unfortunately if BeautifulGarbage is any indication of where the band is headed then I’m not really interested. If they can ever capture the raw energy of the first album that made me fall in love with them then I will reopen this site with new information, lyrics, tour dates, etc. But I don’t see that happening.”

And neither do I. With their new single, “Androgyny,” Garbage has become the once-beloved television show that dragged on longer than it should have. The sole focus became a person and not the ensemble. The quality of writing declined, with less emphasis on metaphor. To keep up with the trends, changes in the overall tone happened. Garbage, like the television show, does not resemble itself anymore.

The dense, electro “Androgyny” recycles the topic of the sexual confusion like their early hit “Queer.” However, it’s without the complexity or ambiguity that made “Queer” such a challenging listen. Instead, “Androgyny,” is foolish and sexless. Shirley Manson is encouraging, but condescending in the first verse: “when everything is going wrong/and you can’t see the point of going on/Nothing in life is set in stone/there’s nothing that can’t be turned around.” In the chorus, Manson wants to be flirty and tempting in the chorus, by saying “boys/in the girls room…girls in the men’s room/You free your mind in your androgyny.” However, her offer of “I’ll free your mind in your androgyny” is not as much sensual as it is lewd. In the second verse, Manson resorts to cliches, specifically forbidden fruit and deep rivers, to explain sexual urges. In the bridge, she says more Chicken Soup for the Sexually Frustrated Soul advice like: “don’t let a soulmate pass you by” and “it doesn’t matter where you are.” Then, it repeats the chorus until the end.

The single doesn’t get past its so-called, phony edginess or its dire need to be sexually free.


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