First of all, I think this is an excellent album, overall. An excellent Garbage album, that is. Yes, there are some things which I would have done differently, had I produced it. And, sure, there are some things which don't grab my attention and make me respond with unbridled joy.
For example, `Auto Sys Habit' is a bit too poppy, for me. `Blood For Poppies', after that nice guitar line, goes into this major key chorus. For me, that sounds awkward. But I love the broken up middle. See? Nobody likes everything.
But the criticisms I read here, and elsewhere, are the very points I use to recommend the album.
1. "Shirley using too many vocal takes, too much signal processing". I say, that's Shirley, and she has always used signal processors on her voice; she has always overlaid vocal tracks. This is Garbage and Shirley Manson, not Sarah Brightman.
2. "The album is over-produced". I say a big production is the signature of a Garbage album. The production of a Garbage record is always complex and the sound is huge. Always.
3. "Derivative." "Cliched". "No risk". "Comfort zone". I say, this is Garbage, NOT Kaiser Chiefs or Pink Floyd or Pixies or whomever. This is Garbage. This is a rock band. And, by the way, Shirley is 45, not 23; Duke Erickson is now 61; come on. They are doing what Garbage does. After a 7 year pause, they have done it very well.
4. "Stuck in the 90s". "Never outgrew angst". "Dated". I say, It's a Garbage album, for crying out loud!!! What do you expect? Who can imagine Shirley singing a song sounding like Diana Krall or Joss Stone? Angst is in her blood.
5. The tunes are `unimaginative', `tired', `lame'. I say, This is ridiculous. There is so much going on in these tunes (evil big production, remember) that one must listen to the thing a few times to catch it all. It is lush, it is noisy; it's melodic and grating and clashing; it is packed with sounds and ambient stuff; it's typically Garbage-style dark and melancholy and edgy (most of the time). And often it rocks like anything they ever did.
So if you like Garbage, you'll like this new record. If you're seeking some incarnation of a Garbage that has changed into something besides Garbage, then you're out of luck.