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Album Review: Placebo – Loud Like Love

So Placebo are back with new album ‘Loud Like Love’ released mid September to a global digitally launched TV spectacular plus a range of social media feeds – and hangouts. All leading up to their 18 month world tour in support of it.

How times flies by. Placebo formed way back in ’94, with their breakthrough hit ‘Nancy Boy’ in ’96. ‘Loud Like Love’ is their seventh studio album; their first in four years, produced by Adam Noble. Placebo remains the core trio of frontman Brian Molko, Swedish bassist Stefan Olsdal and American Steve Forrest (the drummer who joined in 2008). The boy Molko just turned 40.

I’ve had a chance to listen the album for a few days. It’s not unusual for me to listen to an album and mentally switch off. It fades into the background as I do other things – the odd track sticks out. And then I remember I should be listening to it. ‘Loud Like Love’, for me, is more engaging than that.

Very early on it sucks you in. There’s more than just one stand out track in the few hours I’ve had to listen to this. Title track ‘Loud Like Love’ starts off with a jangly guitar before romping away. Single ‘Too Many Friends’ opens with that slightly bizarre tagline “My computer thinks I’m gay….” and even in the competition of commercial radio airplay, immediately stands out before rolling into it’s tale which according to Molko “… is about how technology has bred alienation.” ‘Purify’ is very much typical Placebo once it gets going.

There’s more than one floating lullaby as Molko’s high-pitched vocals soar. ‘Hold on to Me’ Molko sadly explaining his actions and why someone should stick by him. Closing track ‘Bosco’ – all six minutes and 41 seconds is a beautiful melodic track, with Molko soaring melancholy and beautiful as he looks back at a relationship. To an accompaniment of violins  “When I get drunk, you take me home, and keep me safe from harm…” pondering the fact: “..how I suck you dry….” over and over.

 

Over the years I’ve dipped in and out of Placebo. They’ve occasionally issued a track that makes me take notice – so this is the first time I’ve listened to a new Placebo album in a while. This new outing as a whole is an album you can listen and listen to, it’s harmlessly musically absorbing.

 

Placebo are so stand-out it means they’ve always been one of those bands to love or loathe. Molko has hugely distinctive vocals and there’s no change on this album. And the subject matter may be introspective, self-appreciating and observational but it’s not totally dark. With Placebo you either get them or you don’t. Like The Cure or Depeche Mode before them they have their own unique charm. This is a commercially engaging album. Whether it’s enough for loyal fans only time will tell – it is commercial enough to engage a few new ones. It doesn’t depart from the Placebo formula – they’ve just grown up. Bands can’t always be angsty and screamy against the world, everyone grows up at some stage. And by the sound of it Placebo have, in their own unique way.

Worth a listen if you like your music on the alternative side of rock with a spin of commerciality. Enjoyable, but don’t expect anything new.

As part of their 18 month tour 02 Academy Birmingham on 12th December 2013, tickets are still available at a reasonably priced £30.