13 August 2013

Placebo - Without You I'm Nothing

Following up a request from one of our bloggists, I thought it an idea to participate in reviewing extensively this band's catalogue more or less. Good idea? Well, let's find out. So, first things first, what do I know about Placebo? Embarrassingly very little as it transpires, I have heard a few of their tracks such as Nancy Boy and Teenage Angst which I came across in the mid 1990s. Frontman and multi instrumentalist Brian Molko sings with a pronounced lilt of pre-pubescence and heavily US accented voice. Could easily be a spikier and menacing prequel to Teenage Dirtbag, but I admit it's a cruel comparison.

Placebo are a classic three piece lineup, Molko (guitars, keyboards) Stefan Olsdal (bass) and Steve Hewitt (drums) on this album. Their onstage persona is one I find difficult to work out. They're slightly laden in makeup, and coupled with their music makes for perhaps Glam meets Goth meets New Romantic meets Post-Punk. You'll either be endeared to that, or disassociated with them. Personally, it's not a band which I would ever overlook as they appear to be peerless in their creativity and determined to be identifiable in their sound.

I haven't been given the opportunity to review their debut album as I already knew several singles from it, (see Pete Gray's review for that) and so as a shot in the dark, I'm looking at this one. It's their second release, hot on the heels of Placebo and looking to consolidate their mark in the field. First off, on Without You I'm Nothing, Brian Molko's tones suggest that he wants to make a departure from his Teenage Angst trendsetter. The themes as in their previous record deal largely with drug taking and exploring sexuality. The opening track Pure Morning however offers us no real clues to its meaning, Molko claiming this written off the "top of his head" and the lyrical content has an air of discordance but seems to come together. Punk-ish order is brought to the foray with Brick Shithouse followed by the fast beats filler of You Don't Care About Us, while the title track offers some atmospheric and doom-ish rock riffs.

Interesting track Allergic (To Thoughts Of Mother Earth), apparently a dig at the God-fearing citizen who doesn't care for the environment believing theirs is the "Kingdom of Heaven," while some sharpened keyboard work keeps the instrumental flowing smoothly. I also like the acoustic and haunting Crawl, as Molko lends some rare deep tones to the musical soiree. However, any hint of uplifting or enlightenment is pitilessly extinguished with the disturbing Burger Queen. It sounds flowing and gentle, but lyrically despairing, as well as hidden track Evil Dildo where they included a recorded answerphone message of somebody issuing actual death threats to BM although the music presides over any real audibility of the message.

On a previous recent review Eddie J. Carter correctly labelled them as a Marmite band (here's his review). You'll either love the act or loathe them repulsively. Personally, I don't like Marmite, nor would I want to spread it on my slice of toast, but thankfully Placebo doesn't taste salty or thick in yeast extract! Joking aside, Without You I'm Nothing is an ever maturing record that sounds pure and stripped down. It's not an easy album to listen to, but it shows just why Brian Molko and Co. would be with us for a good few years to come. M. Richardson. 13/08/2013.

7.5 out of ten. This is good and well worth a check.

Promo video for You Don't Care About Us.

No Placebo music on Spotify or any other streaming website, this is a link explaining why Brian Molko doesn't believe in them

All their activities, including the coming release Loud Like Love is here on their official website here

You can buy Placebo's album here on Amazon

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