12 August 2013

Placebo - Battle For The Sun

So Pete has asked the group to review Placebo.  I can see that going down well in some quarters of the blog, but that is the problems of others.  For me I have the luxury of being able to pick which album I wanted to review (after the one I wanted was picked by another - see, even the editor doesn't get privileges) and I am actually feeling a bit luck in my pick.  This was the last album before the upcoming release - it was also the first album to feature new drummer Steve Forrest who join Brian Moloko and Stefan Oldsal on their music journey.  This album helped cement Placebo for their international audience - number 1 in eight countries, but it did not really do much for them in the UK (their home country) - how having another top 10 album is beyond me (ironically it peaked at number eight in the UK).  They are preserved here as being a bit past it and are really only famous for their early singles; which is a shame as they have been good with their releases as a whole.  I have owed this album for a while and have not really given it much time to be honest, but whenever it has been on I have thought I should listen to it more - so now I have an excuse to listen to it a bit more.

Placebo in my experience have been the ultimate marmite band - for those of you who do not know what marmite is, it is a spread which is sold in the UK and it is basically beef extract.  Some people love it, some people hate it - but there is always an opinion.  Now I have always been on the love side with Placebo, but I can see why they would annoy people.  Whilst on the face of it, this is not that much of a musical detour from their last release (the wonderful 'Meds') if you compare it from where they started, it is a big change overall for this band.  There is a lot more confidence instead of boyish snotty punk lyrics and arrogance.  They have matured into their own skins with ease and I cannot see that their early incarnations could have made anything as epic as "The Never-Ending Why" and the brooding first single "For What It's Worth" with a fantastic brass section that pins the tracks together.  Also showing on this more mature outing is the improvement in quality where the song writing which has definitely improved from the days of "Nancy Boy".  The title track starts off slow and almost clumber sum in places; yet this is by design and by the time you get to the end it is an uplifting joyful call to arms with simple and effective lyrics which do not have to resort to shock innuendo and the attention grabbing charm of old.

There are a few moments on here which could have been left in the studio though if I am honest.  "Bright Lights" is just the wrong side of garish to make it acceptable, even on a Placebo album, "Speaking In Tongues" is the slow ballad-esque build into the loud guitar track that Moloko insists on placing on each album; but it will never be as good as the one on the first album (for the record, the song is called "I Know"), although to be honest later on in the album the brilliant "Come Undone" works a lot better.  But only a couple of duff tracks on an album with quality like "Breathe Underwater" you would expect this to be scoring high marks here, especially after the praise I have been giving.  But it is not an outstanding album, it has some outstanding moment, but it feels like a hangover after the dizzy heights that was the majestic 'Meds'.  It is well produced, incredibly well crafted, Steve Forrest fits in like a glove; but the end result is just solid, not amazing.  I have a feeling that time will be better on this album than 'Black Market Music', it might mature into something wonder.  But it is just a solid release for yours truly here.

7 out of ten - This is good and well worth a check

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the band's website here

Now Placebo are not on Spotify, but they have put a sampler of the album up

And here is a link to Placebo's views on Spotify here - fair enough to them, what do you think about what they say?

Here is a live version of "Battle For The Sun" from Rock AM 2009 

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