To say that this is Placebo’s first studio album in nine years feels strange; it doesn’t feel as if they ever went away. Indeed, the past decade has encompassed, for the band, a greatest hits compilation (‘A Place for Us to Dream’), a covers EP (‘Life’s What You Make It’) and near-constant touring between 2012 and 2018, with the latter years of that period dedicated to a greatest hits tour to celebrate their 20th anniversary that took them to arenas around the world and saw frontman Brian Molko break his long-held promise to never play one of their biggest hits, ‘Pure Morning’, ever again; cheekily, they opened most shows with it. This follow-up to 2013’s ‘Loud Like Love’ strongly suggests that, by the time they reconvened to work on new material for the first time ever as a two-piece, they had had quite enough of looking backwards. This is an eccentric record, maybe more in line with 2000’s ‘Black Market Music’ than anything they’ve made since. This is sometimes to the album’s benefit; opener ‘Forever Chemicals’, as well as ‘Hugz’ and ‘Twin Demons’, represent seamless blends of guitars and electronics. Elsewhere, there’s soft drama on ‘This Is What You Wanted’ and brooding menace one ‘Surrounded by Spies’. ‘Never Let Me Go’ is lyrically fascinated by the modern world, and while Brian’s grasp on it has become more nuanced than on the clanging ‘Too Many Friends’ in 2013, he seldom comes off as a firebrand, either. After years of reflection, this is a steady steep back towards the future.
Records & Merch
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