Review Summary: But I don't care for myself
Somewhere after or in-between the following that rose after Placebo’s ‘Without You I’m Nothing’ and the day Brian Molko was saved by sound technician Levi Tecofski from drunkenly walking straight into traffic, Placebo’s output took a complex turn. It took nine months to record and finishBlack Market Music
, only to end up looking like a complete photo-negative of the former. The mildly hopeful “Pure Morning” is now the relationally regretful and self-deprecating “Taste in Men,” “Every You Every Me” is now the broken-home special “Black-Eyed” with the story of Molko growing up, and the wavering punk anthem of “You Don’t Care About Us” is now “Slave to the Wage,” a song that is meant to speak to people that are stuck in a menial job and bored with their life to get out and escape. However the band that once played the almost fetishistic ‘Nancy Boy’ crossdressed on stage with a uniquely tuned guitar, a left handed drummer, and a bass player that shook his butt, is now diving head-first deep into playing a dark and depressing record. Brian’s wiry vocals experiment alongside hip-hop artist Justin Warfield for the standout angst of “Spite and Malace,” and he admits to his drug addictions more openly on “Special K,” a.k.a. the slang term for Ketamine.
Placebo's introverted sound separates the band from others in the genre, “Blue American” is a somber tribute, "for all the times she showed me wrong, for all the times she sang God's song". The sincerity is there even when it's rough, and the bitter taste is a problem that was never solved. Placebo retains the wondrous self-deprecating vocals without bringing the dreadful ‘emo’ slang into play. Placebo have had unfortunate events of course, and at least they present them with honesty and capability. ”Slave to the Wage” is a sense apart from the rest, acting as a “song with a message” to those dreading the 9-to-5 job, and the working class that works itself into an early grave.
Musicians will often state that the best thing to do for your album is to place the better tracks towards the front of your album (or at least the ones you want them to hear first). This way, people will hear the better material first and crave more, rather than never committing to listening to the rest because the opener was too dull. Placebo certainly took that to heart, placing their two weaker songs – either unfinished or unpolished - to the back of the album. Here is where Black Market Music
seems to go astray. "Haemoglobin" repeats its own title a number too many, and with an apathetic vocal line, the song is too tender to have been at the record's front. It is however the kind of song that diehard fans will favorite and swoon over when considering the melodies that arc the lines "now my feet don't touch the ground" that carry it as one of the most paralyzing pieces of their career. The remaining melodies and parts in the song are still solid, and the backup vocals are impressive at least. "Narcoleptic" trades repetitive vocals for a lukewarm aura, and it is comfortable being too low to the ground to where the result is worth little effort for it to sink in. For those who enjoyed every song up to this point, "Narcoleptic" will no doubt be a dream song. Often, Black Market Music
is taken a bit too brash by those who critiqued it as a clash of sounds attempting to make an above average album. It's important to note that Black Market
isn't immature. Placebo have maturely created impenetrable set of music with subtle hooks and carefully placed signature moves. It never stands out as ‘holier than thou’ and it maintains a special place in the scene for those who have truly had a troubled past and do not demand attention. If Without You I'm Nothing
isn't their magnum opus, then this is easily their strongest accomplishment and their most harrowing set of songs.