Shirley Manson has always fronted rock/electro/hipa-hop group Garbage as a perennial hooker with her heart on hold.

Paul Wong
Malkmus paves the way for The Jicks.<br><br>Courtesy of Matador Records

Alternating between harshness and deep vulnerability, their music developed over two albums, manifesting in 1998″s Version 2.0 as melodic, techno-tinged rock for the broken-hearted and downtrodden.

On their latest effort, Beautifulgarbage, the edges are either harder, as on their guitar-bash of an opener, “Shut Your Mouth,” or softer.

These softer sides sometimes lean close to being limp Alanis Morisette-style ballads as on the weak “So Like a Rose” or actually working, as on “Cup of Coffee.”

The latter is an eerie choker of a song reminiscent of Portishead, upping the ante of their former songs “Milk” and “You Look So Fine:” “No of course we can”t be friends/Not while I”m still this obsessed.”

Most of the electronics of the past have disappeared in favor of louder guitars, as they rebel against the mainstream pop of today and take a posture similar to that of the now-defunct Smashing Pumpkins.

If someone”s going to take up the mantle of the world”s greatest band, why shouldn”t it be them?

Grade: A-

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