Alternative rock band Placebo has never achieved as much fame as many of its contemporaries in the art rock genre, but it has always stood above the rest.
Frontman and singer Brian Molko has one of the most emotive voices in modern rock, and his lyrics are often very poignant and captivating. The band itself is often extremely talented, and can craft masterful soundscapes in ways others may not expect.
Though having the reputation for being a darker toned band, Placebo's new album Loud Like Love is actually a bit of a change of pace. There's still darkness and heartache, but wrapped up in a different shell. It's an exploration of the concept of love from multiple angles, and some are quite dark.
The album starts with a bang. “Loud Like Love” is a track that's both well written melodically and lyrically. It's the kind of song that albums are meant to start with; a lush track that uplifts and inspires. It hits hard, and the band is in top form here on all counts. The track definitely gives a sense of the overall tone of the album.
“Too Many Friends” is the next track that jumped out to me. The lyrics are very well written and present an interesting thought: “I've got too many friends. Too many people I'll never meet and never be there for.” To me, this is a perceptive look at social networking and how it actually impacts how we can and cannot meet people we see online.
“A Million Little Pieces” is the next highlight, and perhaps this is the most Placebo-like of the whole album. It's a wonderful look at heartbreak, and there's a beautiful piano that drives the track and holds it together, despite the title. Molko is very good on this one. There's a sentimental sense about the whole song.
The final track of the album, “Bosco” is simply breathtaking. It's a triumph of not just the album, but the way songs can and should be written. The song takes a look at a relationship between a man who drinks and abuses his partner, and the thoughts that run through his head as he regrets every mistake he makes, and how feels about his love.
It's a simple song, with a simple piano melody, but it's all that's needed. If there was any more to this song, it would almost seem false. The honesty is held together by Molko's incredible inflection and lyrics, and the simplicity of the instrumentation. It's quite beautiful, and a must-listen.
All in all, the rest of the tracks of the album are worth a listen because the lyrics and musicianship are really something else, but the album suffers from one pervasive problem. The reason I don't rate it higher is because the majority of the tracks lack a melody that truly stands out. The melodies don't seem to go anywhere, which is what pulls this album down, despite the other facets that work in its favor.
This album is certainly a step up for Placebo, and if they can fix the melody problem, its future looks very bright.