They are undoubtedly one of British rock’s international success stories but Placebo seem to almost slip under the “Cool Radar” every single time they release a record. The London trio have achieved a notable and prolonged career by maintaining their ability to progress just enough from the last album, be it in style or quality, to keep their existing fanbase happy while still providing something a bit different.
Meds’s pseudo-goth indie-pop treads a familiar path, its reasonably standard mixture of radio-friendly songs ranging from the fast-stomping keyboard-led numbers to the heartstring-tugging, slow almost-ballads. There is the odd track, such as ‘Space Monkey’, that shows a bit of experimentation and this is no accident. Interestingly sampling their own back catalogue (‘Leni’), this electronically-styled song is reminiscent of Bauhaus, and while it shows no shift in focus, their willingness to test new waters is reassuring in this world of bland assembly-line music.
Placebo’s work has definitely progressed solidly over the past decade gaining intricacy and improving the level of songwriting immeasurably from the days of the simple classic ‘Nancy Boy’. Sadly Brian Molko’s lyrics have not matched the same level of advancement, and so we still have to bear witness to his implementation of some ridiculous rhyming strategies in his songwriting. The entirety of the ambling ‘Follow The Cops Back Home’ results in the goth dwarf ending each line of every verse in something that fits in with the Jimmy Choo / Shampoo / You / Through / etc style. It starts to grate after a while.
Luckily, there are also tracks like _‘Infra-Red’ _and _‘Post Blue’ _in attendance. They are the kind of tracks that really remind you of what classic Placebo is all about: a stomping rhythm section features throughout while Molko’s laconic, disinterested vocal style only really comes alive during the invigorating chorus. When you consider the quality of the duets as well – *VV *from the Kills and *Michael Stipe *– it shows the esteem that their peers hold them in. Indeed, Stipe’s gentle appearance on _‘Broken Promise’ _is both eerie and calming at once, his warm voice complementing Molko’s nasal whine perfectly as the song repeatedly erupts into an explosive chorus.
While there is nothing even marginally groundbreaking here, *Placebo *have still returned with another steady record in Meds. Building on their past fortunes without too much expectation or discomfort, this is a band who know their weaknesses, but ultimately this is a band that knows their own strengths, however limited they may be, and they display them with an adequate execution.
7Raziq Rauf's Score