since i was born i started to decay

 

Placebo

 

This is a somewhat unknown (at least here in the US) English group, led by the androgynous bisexual Brian Molko (vocals/guitar) and filled out by a nondescript rhythm section.

lineup: Brian Molko (vocals, guitar) and some other people of little importance

review index: Placebo / Without You I'm Nothing / Black Market Music

missing albums: none


Placebo - 1996

Rating: ***1/2
Best songs: Teenage Angst, Come Home, I Know
Worst songs: Nancy Boy, Swallow

 

The debut album, I'm guessing this one was recorded cheaply, as the production is kinda thin (as if they had to record most of the stuff live, with only minimal overdubs). Nevertheless, it's a handy encapsulation of the Placebo sound: distorted, rather interesting rhythm guitar parts, Brian Molko's whiny voice, rubbery basslines, and enthusiastic drumming.

Sounds good, you think? Well, for the most part it is rather entertaining, but there's one really big problem: the lyrics are terrible -- the rhyming is really trite, and Molko's pet theme is sexuality, about which he writes with a rather heavy hand. Luckily, this album doesn't come with the lyric sheet, and Molko's voice is mixed low enough so you don't have to concentrate on the words.

Nevertheless, there are several great tunes on here -- the opener "Come Home" rocks out nicely, with spastic guitar riffs and stuff, "Teenage Angst" is a bouncy, catchy pop tune about, er, teenage angst (though it could be taken that the Placeboes are poking fun at the mopey grunge scene), and "I Know" is a near-epic piece with didgeridoos (I hate that word, there's like a hundred different ways to spell it!) and stuff. The only really bad songs on here are "Nancy Boy" (unmemorable!) and "Swallow" (band jamming with some whispering over top != good song). See it cheap? Buy it! That's what I did!


Without You I'm Nothing - 1998

Rating: *
Best songs: um...
Worst songs: too many to mention

 

Sucks.


Black Market Music - 2001

Rating: ***
Best songs: Days Before You Came, Taste in Men, Special K
Worst songs: Blue American, Haemoglobin, Narcolpetic

 

Five years later, they're still doing pretty much the same thing. The opening track "Taste in Men" has some very slight electronic tinges, and there's a very embarassing rap stuck into "Spite & Malice", but for the most part, this is simply more basic guitar-driven rock. The lyrics are even worse this time, unfortunately, but just try to ignore them, okay?

And so we move on: the opening trio of songs, "Taste in Men", "Days Before You Came", and "Special K", are undoubtedly the highlights of the album -- no-nonsense rawkin' out with your friend and mine, Mr. Electric Guitar. "Spite & Malice", the aforementioned foray into rap, is good for its total hilarity -- the guest rapper has almost as whiny a voice as Brian Molko! The songs in the middle are adequate enough, but I'm not gonna write to Santa about them.

Unfortunately, things begin to break down near the end -- "Haemoglobin" thuds along without finding much of interest along the way, and "Narcoleptic" just bores. At least the closer "Peeping Tom" has some neat guitar tones. Oh, and "Blue American" is just totally unacceptable lyrically, even for this band -- just totally awful.

Oh, if you get this one, try to grab a promo copy (like I did) that features a great cover of "I Feel You" (by whom? I have no idea).


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