Placebo – Meds

By on Thursday, 23rd March 2006 at 2:19 am

After a year of silence from the Placebo camp, yesterday I managed to get hold of an advance copy of Placebo’s new album, Meds, that’s coming out in March. I’ve been most interested to hear this new work, which many said was a return to their earlier heavier sound of their debut, and indeed it is, however much more sophisticated and suffocating. Their fame has also enabled two duets, the opener “Meds” is a duet with VV of the Kills, and track 10 is a duet with Michael Stipe of REM, a long-time supporter of Placebo having produced Velvet Goldmine, which saw Placebo as one of the many bands participating. When I heard that the album was going to be produced by the same guy who produced “Running up that Hill”, Dimitri Tikovoi, I wasn’t that keen as I didn’t particularly like the sound of it, however this album has changed my opinion of him.

Opener “Meds” has a guitar reminiscent of “Every You, Every Me” at the start, and is strangely addictive, with frantic guitar, and the rather addictive refrain from VV of “Baby, did you forget to take your meds?” Her voice is perfectly suited to the duet, and sounds perfect: it’s the ideal album opener, with the nice statement of what is to come on the album.

“Space Monkey” is a complete divergence from everything they’ve ever done before, and is clearly a follow on from “Sleeping with ghosts”, with its experimental intro, dark distorted sounding voice and lyrics.

The epic “Follow the cops home” is a ballad in typical Placebo style, however not as suffocating as some earlier efforts such as “Peeping Tom” or “Burger Queen”, and the sophisticated night-time musical landscape created by Stefan Olsdal’s bass and Steve Hewitt’s drumming gives the song extra depth. Urging listeners to “follow the cops back home, let’s rob their houses” the song is strangely addictive, and is already one of my favourites, much in the vain of “Narcoleptic” from Black Market Music.

“Post Blue” is a return to traditional Placebo, with the refrain “it’s in the water baby, it’s in your frequency, it’s in the water baby, it’s between you and me” sounding rather similar to “English Summer Rain” from their previous album, “Sleeping with Ghosts”, and whilst isn’t my favourite track, is still pretty good and will probably be a single, with Brian Molko’s voice providing the distinctive sound to the track.

The first single for the UK, “Because I want You” sounds distinctively early Placebo, reminding me of “Come Home” from their self titled debut. Rather repetitive, but still good, I can see this becoming a live favourite.

“Pierrot the Clown” is another slow song, in the vain of “Peeping Tom”, telling the story (I think) of a drug dealer in the city, and is a great candidate for a dark, brooding video, though I doubt it’ll ever be a single.

The duet with the legend that is Michael Stipe, “Broken Promise” is one of the more different songs of the album, going for an extreme quiet-loud-quiet approach, with the initial verse sung by Stipe, who has a naturally very soft voice, which when combined with Molko’s sharp, camp tune gets lost in amongst the guitars and drums, which is a shame for Stipe, as his lyrics are some of the best on the album. The end of the song though will give you the shivers, with Molko’s voice commenting “A broken promise, You were not honest, I bide my time, I wait my turn”.

“One of a Kind” and “In the cold light of the morning” are both very much end of album closers, with Morning sounding very atmospheric, imagine the night city lights laid out below you, and quiet tunes play as you walk around deserted streets. Molko sounds distinctly like his idol David Bowie in it, a bit deeper singing than normal.

Final track of the album and European first single “Song to say goodbye” is a rockier number after the slower tracks before it, and a good album closer. Whilst I’m not sure that it’s the best single for Europe, it is still very good,

Overall, a good album, continuing on from previous works, however in places a bit of a Placebo-by-numbers, with a few electronic tracks, a few heavier tracks, and a few different to any other tracks that we’ve heard from them before. There aren’t really any sing-along or chart topper tracks like “Bitter End”, “Every You, Every Me”, “Black Eyed” or “Nancy Boy”, and sounds are more complex, but still an awesome effort.

One Response

2:26 pm
29th October 2009

A very talented songwriter.

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