“You Look So Fine” – Garbage (Version 2.0, 1998)
1998 was a strange year for alternative rock. Grunge had come and gone. Many bands were incorporating heavy doses of techno into their rock mix (U2, Smashing Pumpkins, et al). One of the bands to make the transition the most seamlessly was Garbage, whose second album Version 2.0 featured this gem, “You Look So Fine” where Shirley Manson pretty much seduces the listener over haunting breakbeats and a haunting piano.
For me this track has always been about the great atmosphere and production (by band member Butch Vig) with the vocals of Manson wooing and lubricating me to her way of thinking. It starts innocently enough with that piano and a bass that sounds like a heartbeat and the sheen of understated techno music. Not long after we are invoked with:
“You look so fine, I want to break your heart and give you mine, you’re taking me over”
She follows that up in the chorus with:
“I can’t take it like the other girls, I won’t share it like the other girls that you used to know. You look so fine”
From there we get otherworldly ohh’s and ahh’s that simply leave the listener wishing she was the object of her obsession. This song is so coldly sensual that for me, I just get wrapped up in it. When she sings “You’re taking me over, over and over” it’s the audio equivalent of stalking, but not minding being the one being stalked.
The pace of the song is languid, if not slow (especially for a Garbage tune), but this one, like the song “Milk” from their debut, just has a way of drawing you in and rewarding your paying attention to it.
The end is simply sublime as the piano combines with Manson and her vocal overdubs as the song exquisitely disintegrates into the ether. For me the entire Version 2.0 album was great, and somewhat overlooked, but this song is always worth a spin as I get lost in the late-90’s brilliance of it. Let’s pretend, happy end indeed!