Never Let Me Go

Written by: PP on 11/08/2022 21:07:16

Placebo's dark, moody alternative rock has always held a special place in my heart ever since the likes of "Pure Morning" and "Every You And Every Me" on their masterpiece sophomore album "Without You I'm Nothing" back in 1998. They've been producing enjoyable alternative rock pieces since then to varying degrees of success ranging from the excellent "Battle For The Sun" to the average "Loud Like Love" back in 2013, but lately they've been rather quiet. "Never Let Me Go" is their eighth studio album and their first one in nine years. Turns out it's worthwhile to wait for the good stuff as the album places solidly in the top three or four records they've released to date - at least if you take into account the first five songs only.

Opener "Forever Chemicals" opens with off-tune industrial pounding effects that feel unusual for Placebo, but already on "Beautiful James", we are treated to the signature-style, arrogance-laden vocals of Brian Molko. His pompous style has always been charismatic, but both here and on murky "Hugz" he sounds better than he has since arguably 2000's "Black Market Music". His monotonous howls are mesmerizing and fit atop the droning alternative rock perfectly, echoing similar vibes you might have heard on a classic Suede or Interpol record.

Most importantly, Placebo is back at writing expansive soundscapes characterized by their gloomy, 80s type of atmosphere. "Happy Birthday In The Sky" is one of the highlights on the album that explores this style, creating a sense of tension few other bands can produce. "Twin Demons" might be more upbeat rhythmically, but it is Molko's brooding verses that capture a familiar Placebo ambiance despite the electronic effects present in the song. "Chemtrails" likewise is an alternative track that would be difficult to place with any other band than Placebo for similar reasons.

The album isn't without its missteps, though. "Surrounded By Spies", for instance, is an experimental indie piece that is too avant-garde for its own good. Likewise, "Sad White Reggae" floats around in an uncharacteristic soundscape that just doesn't work quite as intended. "Went Missing" is also too spoken word and calm for my taste.

Moreover, the second half of the record feels rather inconsistent with too many tracks that feel meh or merely decent rather than inviting for repeat listening sessions like most songs in the first half. It leads us to a conclusion that even though some material here is among the best they've written in a long while, overall the Placebo magic still can't quite get back to how it was on the early albums.


Download: Happy Birthday In The Sky, Beautiful James, Twin Demons
For the fans of: Muse, Interpol, Suede, Feeder, Garbage, The Cure
Listen: Facebook

Release date 25.03.2022
So Recordings / Elevator Lady / Rise

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