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PlaceboPlacebo
Meds (Virgin)

 

 

OK, let's play a little game here. It's called 'spot the drugs reference'. Brian Molko scatters so many allusions to rock 'n' roll substances throughout the songs on this album you can entertain yourself for hours (well, whole minutes, at least) picking them out from his general flow of lyrical angst. But then, that's Brian Molko's shtick. He sings every song as if he's just awoken, bleary-eyed and fretful, after a heavy night of rock 'n' roll hedonism, and, in the daze of the come-down, he's just realised the Ultimate Futility Of Human Existence. And quite often his girlfriend's left him, too. Naturally, those deliciously angsty lyrics come neatly wrapped in Placebo's trademark sound: tense, restless rock workouts, unashamedly based around the basic formula of boldly-strummed major guitar chords, and bleak, sweeping ballads, qualms and inquietitude set to rumbling effects and plangent keyboards.

PlaceboIf all this makes Meds sound like a rather downbeat affair...well, in many ways, it is. But nobody does morning-after misery quite as well as Placebo. No other band conjures that same feeling of lying in the gutter, scowling defiantly at the stars. Nobody can write a loser anthem as disarmingly truculent as 'Drag'; nobody does wistful fancy quite as poignantly as Placebo manage on 'Follow The Cops Back Home'. This is a band that can thrash out a reverberant, exuberant, lust-fuelled punker like 'Because I Want You' - and then make domestic violence the subject of an achingly bittersweet serenade, as they do with 'Pierrot The Clown'. And on this one, all cynicism aside, when Brian Molko lets himself off the vocal leash on the line 'When I dream, I dream your fists,' I guarantee you will be hard pressed to keep your eyes from welling up. You'll almost be able to forgive him for pronouncing it 'Fests'.

Five albums in, and the Placebo formula is firmly established. Some might say its limitations are firmly defined. Certainly, Meds doesn't see the band going out of their way to push any envelopes. Essentially, this album is simply Placebo being Placebo. But there's the rub: they do it so well.

 

Essential links:

Placebo: Website | MySpace

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