May 042023
garbage cities in dust cover

“Cities in Dust” was the first single from Siouxsie and the Banshee’s Tinderbox, their seventh record. Arguably among the danciest tracks they’d yet recorded, it became their biggest non-cover hit in basically half a decade, and their highest charting hit in the US so far (which isn’t saying much). Calling it “dance rock” now might seem a little weird, because the dance rock fusions that followed got a lot dancier (not to mention New Order…), but it is still a noticeably “dancy” song for a band that originated as an extremely gothy and gloomy spin on punk.

Perhaps it comes as no surprise that another band that blended dance music with contemporary rock music would want to cover “Cities in Dust.” That’s how Garbage became famous, of course, by blending alternative rock and dance.

At the start of their cover, there’s a bit more of a dance vibe, with a throbbing synth and a drum machine way up high in the mix. But the guitars (and piano!) are louder than the original and they give the track a bit of a vaguely industrial feel. The pace is just a tiny bit slower which adds to the mid ’90s vibe. Lead singer Shirley Manson sings the vocal line pretty straight but at a lower register. Garbage really lean into the dancey side during the bridge, which isn’t a particular danceable part of the original.

Manson whispers “I love you Siouxsie” during the coda. But though it is a heartfelt tribute, it does manage to distinguish itself from the original. Though Manson does try to sing it a little like Siouxsie Sioux would, the rest of the band lean in to Garbage’s sound so the music around Manson’s voice ends up sounding a lot more like Garbage and a lot less like the banshees. So the cover ends up striking a nice balance between tribute and (mild) reinvention.

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