No Gods No Masters is the seventh studio album by American rock band Garbage. It was released on June 11, 2021, through the band's own label Stunvolume. The album was distributed worldwide by Infectious Music and BMG and preceded by the lead singles "The Men Who Rule the World", "No Gods No Masters" and "Wolves".
"This is our seventh record, the significant numerology of which affected the DNA of its content: the seven virtues, the seven sorrows, and the seven deadly sins," singer Shirley Manson explained, describing No Gods No Masters as "a critique of the rise of capitalist short-sightedness, racism, sexism and misogyny across the world."
In 2017, Garbage recorded and released a standalone digital single titled "No Horses", which the band hinted could be the direction their new material would sound. Writing for Garbage's seventh album began in April 2018, following some preliminary work at Butch Vig's home studio, the band set up space in Palm Springs to write demos. The quartet sketched out the skeleton of the album over two weeks, jamming, experimenting and feeling the songs out. Work was paused in the latter half of 2018, as Garbage marked the twentieth anniversary of their second album Version 2.0 (1998) with the two-month 20 Years Paranoid tour, before reconvening in Los Angeles to finish the project.
In mid-2019, Manson had described the material from the album writing sessions as "cinematic". Drummer Butch Vig remarked on musical references to Roxy Music and The Talking Heads, while also noting that the album was quite eclectic, similar to 2001's Beautiful Garbage, in that each song has its own identity. At first Vig thought the album would go in a more orchestral direction, however this changed when the music was developed further to match the intensity of Manson's vocal. "It's certainly a different-sounding record than our last couple . It has lots of guitars, lots of melodies and hooks. It's poppier than the last record," explained Manson, "We were very inspired by the weird, subversive pop of Roxy Music—that was kind of our muse. Not that it sounds anything like Roxy Music, but that was definitely something we thought about a lot." Recording work began in earnest from September until March 2020, when COVID-19 restrictions impacted after the final week of recording. Various bass guitar parts were recorded by Eric Avery, Justin Meldal-Johnsen and Daniel Shulman, all of whom had recorded on previous Garbage albums.
Finishing touches were applied via digital collaboration; the album was mixed throughout July 2020. Final delivery of the album took place in September 2020. No Gods No Masters is self-produced by Garbage, in collaboration with their long-time studio engineer and mixer Billy Bush. The album was mastered by Heba Kadry.
Manson had written most of the lyrics for the album by the end of 2019, with a few finishing touches at the end of the sessions in February/March 2020. Manson had interviewed George Clinton for her podcast The Jump, and was inspired by his P-Funk Mothership concept. This inspired her to write a song based on a scifi Noah's Ark, which became "The Men Who Ruled the World". Manson's podcast interview with Liz Phair also inspired a track ("Flipping the Bird"), where she deliberately pitched her vocal low like Phair. Described as the album's "pop song", and referencing the Two Wolves legend, "Wolves" recalls the power of youth and the danger therein. Title track "No Gods No Masters" came from Manson seeing graffiti on heritage buildings in Santiago, Chile, when she visited during civil demonstrations (estallido social). The song reimagines a future society without corporate greed. "The Creeps" was developed from words Manson had written describing when she was dropped as a solo artist by Interscope, not long after the dissolution of Garbage's deal with Geffen, but had tried for 14 years to use elsewhere. Another personal track "Uncomfortably Me", had been aided by overindulging in mezcal cocktails. The album's press release further states that the lyrical context of the record will touch upon the Black Lives Matter and MeToo movements within the album centrepiece track "Waiting for God", while "Godhead" examines the patriarchal structures at place in modern society. "This City Will Kill You" began as Manson's love song to Los Angeles, but developed into something darker, an "elegy to loss and the past", which she believes is the most sophisticated song that she has ever written. Vig felt that Manson's lyrics were reflective of the current political period, describing them as "kind of dark and edgy" and that the lyrics might not have been explicit and direct had they written the songs ten or fifteen years earlier.
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