Review: Placebo – Loud Like Love
Published on September 17th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
It’s hard to imagine who’d hold out any kind of hope for Placebo’s new album Loud Like Love outside the band’s own fervent fan base.
Their self-titled 1996 debut was pretty good, y’know…nowt ground-breaking, but the likes of “Nancy Boy”, “36 Degrees” and “Bruise Pristine” were good fun at the time. Heck, the Smashing Pumpkins homage of “Teenage Angst” too.
1998 follow-up spawned big hits in “Pure Morning” and “Every You, Every Me”, and deservedly so. They were the good sort of festival anthem, the kind that launches a thousand hands in the air as a crowd utters “oh **** yeah, I know this one” as one.
However, it was evident even then that Placebo were never likely to evolve into anything particularly meaningful or timeless.
Loud Like Love might just as well have been their disappointing third album as it is their predictable seventh album. Thinking on, ‘predictable’ is letting the first few tracks off lightly; they sound like The Killers, and that’s not meant as anything even resembling a compliment.
Yes, The Killers, from the overblown stadium rock of the title track and “Too Many Friends” to the ugly, shoehorned-in electronics of the aptly titled “Scene of the Crime”.
“Too Many Friends” offers a rare redeeming feature with Brian Molko’s opening line “My computer thinks I’m gay / I threw that piece of junk away”, but his theatrical sneer is not what it once was.
“For once defy convention” he sings on “Hold On to Me”, practically inviting the instruction to be turned back on himself and his band.
Funnily enough it proceeds to do so with a brooding, string-swept spoken word section the preposterousness of which secures the benefit of our doubt.
“Rob the Bank” fares relatively well with its wibbly, Coxon-esque lead guitar line and Molko-isms like “Make a joke out of dislexia, then pick your nose”, albeit they’re all too easily isolated as moments of interest.
With each passing track, it becomes less and less likely that Loud Like Love will deign to take you by surprise like it sort of did, in a way, with the spoken word section of “Hold On to Me”.
“Purify” just goes back to sounding like The Killers, albeit with the added bonus of a discernible backbone, while heart-on-the-line closing ballad “Bosco” just feels kind of…well, trite, sadly.
“Whenever I was feeling wrong, I used to go and write a song from my heart / But now I feel I’ve lost my spark, no more glowing in the dark for my heart” – is this an admission of defeat contained within “A Million Little Pieces”? It rings eerily true.
Loud Like Love is out now on Elevator Lady.
Rocksucker says: Two and a Half Quails out of Five!