Where are my meds?
When I first listened to Never Let Me Go I had committed the cardinal sin of listening to it through a crappy Bluetooth speaker while I did other things. The impression I got from it was quite different from the overall appreciation I have for it now. What that Bluetooth speaker gave me was a meagre portion of the album's full potential.
Not so different as to be unrecognisable however. Never Let Me Go is the band's eighth studio album, and whilst frontman Brian Molko's idiosyncratic vocal is welcomingly recognisable, the rest of the record offers up a refreshingly new take on their tried and tested brand of alt-rock. And well it might. Having spent two and half years pre-pandemic touring a catalogue of their greatest hits (also read, poppiest material), it's understandable that the band should want to explore their other, darker facets.
A record of bloody-nosed nostalgia, of earworm riffs, of thick layers of grunge and jazzy breaks that swell up just when you think you've pinned the sound down At the moment, we really wish it was 1996, don't we? Take us back to a place before pandemics, wars, spiralling costs of living and some of the darker corners of Twitter, where the only concern was shoving the androgynous eyeliner and heroin-fucked boys out of the way to apply your lipstick in the glam club because (archaically) the men’s toilets didn't have a mirror. Take us back to the sweat of the late nights stumbling over bodies at house parties that seemed never to end. Times were oh so simple then.
It's been a long, long time since we've had a new record from gender fluid rockers Placebo, and on their eighth album, Never Let Me Go, Brian Molko and Stefan Olsdal have stuck close to their well-trodden territory of teenage angst, seething anger, drugged up paranoia, and cinematic melodrama. Having been made to wait for so long, the worry amongst their fans, no matter how diehard, is that the pair have lost their edge in all that time. Fortunately, their latest LP is still loaded with such nasty, scuzzed up songs as "Hugz," which is clearly indebted to their long-term influence Sonic Youth, right down to pinching lines from "Kool Thing.
Placebo have never been a critic's band. An outsider experience, being shunned by the cognoscenti probably suited them - it certainly hasn't harmed them, building a two-decade catalogue of goth-tinged, eyeliner-strewn anthems that seem to speak directly to their dedicated, explicitly loyal fanbase. 2013's 'Loud Like Love' was followed by an enormous world tour, before Placebo found themselves grounded once more.