Play It Again Sam/Mushroom – 2001 – 52 minutes

While Garbage's 1998 album 'Version 2.0' contained its share of hit singles, the consensus was that it was nothing more than a lukewarm afterthought to the allure of their 1995 debut. And even though Garbage provided the soundtracks for a thousand strip clubs with songs like 'Queer', 'Stupid Girl' and 'You Look So Fine', they could never escape the manufactured tag which can only but attach itself when three musos rope in a lippy chanteuse as the frontwoman.

'Beautiful Garbage' however, could well be the album to scorch all previous copy as singer Shirley Manson, producer turned drummer Butch Vig and the other two (Duke Erikson and Steve Marker) create their most sublime and accomplished offering to date.

In terms of sound it's more straightforward – less gadgets and more grit – but the variety of styles they serve up suggests they've spent more time on pre and not post-production. 'Shut Your Mouth' and 'Silence is Golden' boast the heaviest of riffs and sit alongside 'Can't Cry These Tears', a song which finds Manson donning a beehive for a Spectorish jaunt through church bells, tambourines and woe is me lyrics.

There are singles aplenty too, with gender bending floor filler 'Androgyny' providing the album's standout chorus and 'Cherry Lips' welding Ryan Paris' 80's hit 'Dolce Vita' to the finest of Blondie's 70's moments. The real highlight however, is saved until the close with the six-minute ballad 'So Like a Rose' finding Manson exploring family dysfunction over spooky guitars and a beautifully understated vocal.

Garbage have lasted for longer than anyone expected and on this evidence should be around for many years to come. "In this dangerous world there's an art to growing old," sings Manson on 'Breaking Up the Girl'. She and her cohorts are doing it in some style.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: Shut Your Mouth – Androgyny – Can't Cry These Tears – Til The Day I Die – Cup of Coffee – Silence is Golden – Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!) – Breaking Up The Girl – Drive You Home – Parade – Nobody Loves You – Untouchable – So Like a Rose