The great thing about Garbage -- the thing that nobody wants to mention -- is that they are veterans, from frontwoman Shirley Manson to the three studio pros who play the instruments. They slogged through the trenches of alt-rock in the '80s, whether it was in the U.S. or the U.K., and they came together at the precise moment in the '90s when they could fashion modern-sounding music with a keen eye to the present and modern. They consciously picked up elements from shoegazing, trip-hop, and indie rock -- anything sonically interesting in the underground, crafting them together with skill and a keen commercial eye. On their third record, Beautiful Garbage, that's more evident than ever, from how they approximate contemporary R&B with the sultry "Androgyny," or the Minneapolis new wave bubblegum funk of "Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)," or the bluesy PJ Harvey strut of "Silence Is Golden." It's all the more evident because this has a shiny, sugary, unabashedly pop coating, an element that Garbage clearly revel in, as well as should the listener. This is every bit as enticingly postmodern as their other albums, and it sounds distinctly Garbage -- there are elements of My Bloody Valentine crashing up against Tricky, post-Madchester dance, jangle pop, goth stance, and classic pop -- but they seem less like magpies, more themselves, which means Beautiful Garbage is a more consistent record. It's unlikely to storm the charts like their first two records, especially since there aren't standout singles like on the earlier albums, but overall the record works better, perhaps their best album.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine