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Placebo - Loud Like Love (Album Review)

Monday, 23 September 2013 Written by Graeme Marsh

Placebo’s last effort, ‘Battle For The Sun’, received mixed reviews upon its arrival in 2009, with critics seemingly only interested in comparing it to the angst-ridden albums of old. While it is unlikely that many bands will be able to maintain the same level of relevance over a 20 year period as Placebo have, perhaps the focus should have been on the material within, rather than a longing for the past.

‘Loud Like Love’ is the second album to be released since the awkward departure of drummer Steve Hewitt in 2007, with Steve Forrest now behind the kit. Line-up changes aside, the group have provided a constant flow of credible material throughout their career, amassing millions of album sales worldwide, and of the six studio offerings prior to this, only 2003’s ‘Sleeping With Ghosts’ failed to reach the top 10 in the UK album chart.

Heralded by a 90-minute TV show streamed from YouTube, the album opens with the title track, an upbeat rocker built around a repetitive echo-heavy guitar riff, while Scene Of The Crime is introduced with minimal percussion before it takes a turn towards anthemic territory in the latter stages, with the repeated use of the song title forming a thumping finale.

Lead single Too Many Friends follows, along with Brian Molko’s strange lyrics – “My computer thinks I’m gay” - and the slower-paced Hold On To Me is an atmospheric plea sounding like something from a movie soundtrack, its spoken word section an interesting if unremarkable ingredient.

Rob The Bank is a bass heavy number that gallops along and recalls Garbage during the chorus, but all the good work is undone by another dodgy lyric: “Rob the bank, then pick your nose.”  A Million Little Pieces slows the tempo once more, and with its distinctive piano line, bouncing bass guitar, subtle synths and racing guitars it’s a clear highlight.

Exit Wounds initially calls to mind the industrial sounds of Depeche Mode, continuing in minimalist fashion until exploding in another belting chorus alongside a weaving, fuzzy guitar line.  Purify sounds hollow in comparison, until synths and guitar complement a more prominent drumming effort from Forrest.

Two six minute songs complete the set. The first, Begin The End, has a U2 feel with militaristic drums and a guitar line that complements Molko’s vocal melody, and the track doesn't outstay its welcome despite its length.  

Closer Bosco, though, is another of those perplexing efforts. Subtle strings adorn the chorus and it blossoms into a beautiful piece until the repetitive lyric of “how I suck you dry” takes over. After what seems like the 500th repetition, it finally ends.

All in all Loud Like Love is an album not to be sniffed at. Placebo won’t win any lyrical contests, nor will they appease those fans that long for their more relevant early records. What they have done is create an album that, when judged on its own merits, is enough to reward listeners as Suede did earlier this year with ‘Bloodsports’.

Placebo UK & Ireland Tour Dates are as follows

Thu December 12th 2013 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy Birmingham
Fri December 13th 2013 - GLASGOW O2 Academy Glasgow
Sat December 14th 2013 - MANCHESTER Manchester Apollo
Mon December 16th 2013 - LONDON O2 Academy Brixton
Tue December 17th 2013 - LONDON O2 Academy Brixton

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