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Classic Album Review: Placebo | Black Market Music

Brian Molko & co. remain a potent, bitter pill on their third studio outing.


This came out in 2001 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


This U.K. trio are sometimes likened to David Bowie fronting Sonic Youth — mainly, one presumes, because of the band’s artsy-noise leanings and singer Brian Molko’s androgyny.

Guess those two artists are as good a starting place as any — although really, Molko’s spindly nasal whine is pretty much the polar opposite of Bowie’s sonorous tones. As if to prove that point, the two team up on the gloomy and glammy Without You I’m Nothing, an old single included here as a bonus track. Even without Bowie’s help, Placebo are a long way from nothing. The album’s dozen new tracks are a squirming, throbbing mix of post-glam decadence, post-punk snarl and post-coital disgust, with the band veering from big-beatish grooves (Taste in Men) to Pavementish slacker-fuzz (Passive Aggressive and Slave to the Wage, which even samples the P-men) while Molko warbles and wails and rails against the world in a magnificent hissy fit of self-absorption, self-loathing and self-destruction. Bottom line: For a band called Placebo, these guys remain a potent — and bitter — little pill.

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