Placebo - Loud Like Love (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
PLACEBO may have their detractors but seventh studio album Loud Like Love continues to position them as one of the UK’s best big acts.
Marrying their typical intensity with thought-provoking, socially aware lyricism and some cracking instrumental arrangements (of the alt-rock variety), this is a great listen that tosses in some genuinely exhilarating moments, as well as one remarkably poignant one.
The LP kicks off in rousing fashion with the distinct guitar hooks and almost celebratory title track, which hits some anthemic heights, and delivers the kind of crowd-pleasing grandeur that acts like Coldplay specialise in.
While Scene of the Crime blasts you with typical intensity, including a mid-track drum breakdown to rival Primal Scream’s Rocks Off, and a typically astute dissection of a failed relationship (“making up is overrated”).
Things get even better with former single Too Many Friends, another biting dissection of the ills of social media (“my computer thinks I’m gay” and “too many friends and too many people that I’ll never meet… I’ll never be that bored” are two pearls), that flies in the face of its scepticism with a blistering chorus made for singing along to.
If anyone thinks that taking pot-shots at social trends could alienate friends and fans, then this is the way to do it. The self-same people who covet social media awareness may well be singing along the loudest!
The tender side to Placebo is then beautifully exposed on Hold On To Me, a searing look at misunderstood depression, that finds Brian Molko at his most emotionally expressive. His voice seems to be getting better with age, while the guitar solo here is great.
Rob The Bank takes a welcome pot-shot at bankers and is full of edgy energy (a crime anthem in waiting), while A Million Little Pieces combines piano and guitar to seamless effect while Molko delivers emotive lines like “I’ve lost the power to be a man with my heart”. There’s a cinematic grandeur to this one too.
Yet throughout, Placebo delight in their keen mix of lyrical prowess and instrumental sharpness… Exit Wounds again works some sombre piano chords around slick beat arrangements and an ultra moody, stripped back vocal from Molko, while Purify picks up the pace and clobbers you with one of the edgiest hooks on the LP (and a bass right out of U2’s copy-book). The electronic surge under-pinning the chorus works too.
The album comes to a close, meanwhile, with one of the best ballads of the year… Bosco. Opening with a melancholy piano arrangement and the line “I love you more than any man, but something’s getting in the way”, the track then becomes even darker with the follow-up, “I do you harm because I can for the second time today”.
The ensuing track then proceeds to blow you away emotionally and sonically… the pianos eventually giving rise to some moody string arrangements and a brutally honest depiction of a wreck of a relationship that is nonetheless held afloat by love (“when I get drunk, you take me home, and keep me safe”… “I ask you for another second chance but then I drink it all away”).
It’s a show-stopping finale to a really great Placebo album and a stark contrast to its euphoric start.
Download picks: Loud Like Love, Too Many Friends, Hold On To Me, Bosco, A Million Little Pieces, Begin The End