Placebo – Never Let Me Go (So Recordings/ PIAS)

  Van Muylem    28 maart 2022

Placebo are on fire again. More than a quarter-century since vocalist-guitarist Brian Molko and bassist Stefan Olsdal started bashing around with broken guitars and toy instruments in Molko’s front room in Deptford, the core duo have dug very deep to spirit up their eighth long-player. And yes: this is my first Placebo review ever! There is a first time for everything!

The album is called ‘Never Let Me Go’: it channels all their skill as songwriters and sound-makers into music that satisfies their near-brutal appetite for self-expression, but also seeks a furious relevance with the early-’20s world we all find ourselves in – crawling out of the pandemic into a landscape of intolerance, division, tech-saturation and imminent eco-catastrophe.

Forever Chemicals starts slowly with Brian Molko in an industrial mood. Somehow it reminds me the timeDavid Bowieworked together withTrent Reznorand that means it’s a great track and thus a perfect opener!Beautiful James already came out as a single and is a slow grower: the more you listen to it the better it gets. I adore the keyboards and the guitars.

Hugz has indeed hit potential (like Koen Asaerts wrote in his Flemish review): it’s hard and heavy and has a good chorus. I’m sure it will a perfect one to perform on stage! Happy Birthday In The Sky has also already been launched as a single. It’s a very sad song and fit’s well with Brian’s voice. Towards the end the song explodes and gets a bombastic touch.

The Prodigal starts with strings and sounds like a classic rework of Placebo. It’s also a very emotional and melancholic song in the way like it’s as if it’s a goodbye for now song. The sweet backings lift the song even more, just as the guitar outbursts! This song is one of the reasons why this is a must have in your collection album! Surrounded By Spies mixes industrial withsomething that comes close to a spoken word. Once again the backings give it something sweet. Towards the end the tempo goes up and becomes a rocker and thus sounds way better as in the start. The end comes near to a real wall of sound and could have cut off then and simply end with a big blow instead of the piano fade out!Another already known song is Try Better Next Time: a good and catchy classic Placebo track! The more you listen to it the better you can sing-a-long and the more it get’s stuck in your head!

Sad White Reggae brings modern electro-rock and mixes it with some guitars and a very melancholic voice. I also adore the bass guitar! Twin Demons has great bassplay, catchy guitar sound and a good drummer whilst mixed with Brian’s voice turns into a dancefloor filler! I’m sure it will also be a hit on stage! Chemtrails sounds a bit softer but gets reigned by synths and a retro 80’s guitar sound. I’m sure a lot of fans from the first hour will claim this song! The lyrics are also good and might get some deeper into this song! The extra backings are also great (feels like the band knows when to use backings and how they need to sound at the right momentum). This Is What You Wanted has been taken over by a piano and Brian’s voice until almost halfway. The drums tap slowly, just as the bass guitar. We also hear some backings. If you listen to it a few times it might be you will have to shed a tear or knock with your fist on the table and start to swear! It’s a very powerful song with a positive ending! Went Missing is another very emotional song where Brian’s voice gets very much upfronted and asks for your attention!

Fix Yourself starts slowly with Brian Molko in a jazzy/electro minimal mood, although you will hear some guitars too. Halfway the song gets a more epic and a more Wagnerian touch, whilst it all calms down towards the end. The lyrics are also great and sums up why these folks are so good!

Well: this is clearly a must have album and I'm glad I took the time needed to work on this review. This album will be in my top 3 of best albums of the year! I love the 80's retro sound, the lyrics and the eco message!

29.03.22 exclusive, intimate show at Botanique, Brussels
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