Happy Birthday In The Sky
Surrounded By Spies
Try Better Next Time
Sad White Reggae
This Is What You Wanted
Way back in 1999, Cruel Intentions hit the big screen. As the opening credits of the film rolled, Every You Every Me blared out the speakers and spearheaded a very solid soundtrack. It also introduced this reviewer to Placebo for the first time.
Admittedly, I’ve dabbled in and out of Placebo’s discography since then, but always find myself intrigued by how this band have constantly reinvented and reinvigorated their sound since the late 90’s.
Fast forward to 2022 and Placebo are back with their latest LP “Never Let Me Go”. And this one is a real firecracker.
Arguably the band’s best LP since “Sleeping With Ghosts”, the 13 tracks are interesting, musically diverse and have an amazing way of blending poetically melodic lyrics with raw, instrumental emotion. On first listen you may give this one a fair chance and enjoy what’s here. Ultimately though, this one feels like a real grower.
The tracks themselves blend the usual thoughtful lyrics that go beyond the surface level poetry being sung to showcase layers of societal woes and observations about our current post-pandemic world.
‘Forever Chemicals’ is a great way to set the record alight, and the interesting use of guitar riffs and off-key synths work perfectly next to the lyrics, which ooze that signature Placebo sound.
In fact, the track placement on this LP is almost perfect, with the tone immediately whiplashing into “Beautiful James”, which feels like a big-room anthem. The fact that this track has over 9 million plays on Spotify (6 million more than any other track on the album) is testament to how catchy this is.
The lyrics in ‘Beautiful James’ are a testament to love, and specifically the beauty of homosexual love. The words are intentionally left open for interpretation to extend beyond this, feeling as much about life’s journey and the grimy underbelly of our society, as it is about a protection of innocence.
“There’s nobody’s at the wheel” and “Everybody lies, one hundred times a day” feel like direct jabs at how we, as human beings, are not in control and aren’t as truthful and saintly as one would expect.
Another interesting track is ‘Surrounded By Spies’; the bass and lyrics work beautifully to set an eerie minor-key tone that harks back to the earlier feel of ‘Forever Chemicals.’
I could go on and list numerous different songs that stand out, including ‘Try Better Next Time’ which features some pretty interesting lyrics that are definitely up for interpretation. However, the general gist of this track links back to humanity and how we need to “try better next time”, as if we’ve already pushed ourselves past the brink of no return.
Even if humanity is past that point, when it comes to music Placebo appear to be miles away from reaching their proverbial end. This band constantly reinvigorate and reinvent themselves, bursting back on the scene this year with an incredible album full of absolute bangers.
The poetic lyrics, boasting deep, thoughtful meanings, and the iconic vocals of Brian Molko combine to catapult Placebo back to the forefront of deep, thought provoking alt-rock. This is easily one of the best albums this year.
Verdict - 9/10