Garbage's self-titled 1995 debut was remarkably of-the-moment, a prototypically '90s record full of pumped-up, electronically enhanced, sample-laden pop-rock songs—each, appropriately enough, performed by a vamping cover-girl type and an untelegenic batch of studio magicians. The record delivered radio hit after radio hit, and while few were particularly memorable, all sounded great coming out of car radios and dance-club speakers. Garbage's new Version 2.0 is no different: Updated slightly with some new electronic noises, it's a palatably similar sequel, with half a dozen songs that ought to work as singles. Shirley Manson's voice is front and center throughout Version 2.0, of course, and she sounds equally comfortable at the fore of menacing dance songs ("Dumb," "Hammering In My Head"), moody mid-tempo ballads ("Medication," "The Trick Is To Keep Breathing"), and overdriven rock singles ("Push It"). But as on its predecessor, Version 2.0's real stars are Butch Vig, Steve Marker, and Duke Erikson, who are responsible for both the album's unstoppable rhythms and its busy, perfectly swollen mix. It helps that all involved know how to write and perform a terrific pop song, and everything here benefits from that slick professionalism. Garbage may be derided as the stuff Details covers are made of—provided the three guys are blurred behind the image of a sneering, undergarment-clad Manson—but at least its records always sound great. Version 2.0 is fad-conscious ear candy, but it's some of the best fad-conscious ear candy you'll hear this year.
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