Review Summary: Another disappointing Placebo record that signals an important question for them: where do they go from here?
So, here we are, in 2013, still talking about Placebo. I'd like to open this review by saying how Loud Like Love
is the album that they needed to make if they wanted to return to their late-90s/early 00s form, but unfortunately that isn't true. You see, Placebo haven't been good since 2006's Meds
, but as soon as Steve Hewitt left they've never been able to recapture their old magic. Battle for the Sun
was average, offering some decent songs amongst a group of useless ones, and B3
wasn't horrible, but it was a long way from Without You I'm Nothing
or Black Market Music
. That's why Loud Like Love
represents an important point in Placebo's discography; the point where they can either rebound from a couple of mediocre albums or continue their slump.
With only ten songs, Loud Like Love
needs a lot of highlights if it wants to remain memorable, but sadly, the highlights are just completely missing. The album opens up nicely enough with the title track's captivating guitar riff and anthemic chorus, reminding us all of Placebo's glory days. It's songs like these that give a false hope to the album, because the next few songs are incredibly vapid with no substance whatsoever to any of them, with “Rob the Bank”, “Hold on to Me” and “Too Many Friends” being the worst offenders. The latter features some incredibly stupid lyrics (even though two of the band members are homosexuals, "My computer thinks I'm gay, I threw that piece of junk away" is still complete songwriting garbage), while the former two highlight the more nasally qualities of Brian Molko's vocals and lack the catchy hooks that the title track had.
The main problem with Loud Like Love
is that Placebo haven’t changed their sound one bit since 2003. Any of these songs could have placed on Battle for the Sun
, and it’s disappointing to hear how little they’ve progressed. The only song that has Placebo attempting something different would be “Exit Wounds” and its thumping industrial-driven beat. Loud Like Love
achieves the most on its slower, more emotional songs, and the album’s second half (advertised as the dark side of the record) is full of them. "A Million Little Pieces"'s infectious riff and chorus brings back memories of "Post Blue" from Meds
. Its downbeat mood perfectly displays Molko's emotional vocal performance, and is the definitive highlight of the album.
It’s nice to see Loud Like Love
end with a bang after such a slow start; “Purify”’s captivating chorus of “My kiss, can you feel it yet? In the back of your legs? And on the nape of your neck?” may not be the best lyrically, but instrumentally, it gets the job done. Seven-minute long closer “Bosco” is the most intimate song on the album, detailing the derailing on a relationship. What makes the song stand out from the rest of the pack is Molko’s vocals; there might be many songs on the album where his singing is godawful and nasally as ***, but when he sings from his heart, that’s when his voice shines the most. As the album draws to its conclusion, the last thing that I remembered was Brian Molko’s vocal performance on “Bosco”, and that’s good enough for me.
What’s not good enough for me, however, is Loud Like Love
’s end result. Sure, the album’s latter section has some great songs reminiscent of classic Placebo, but more times than not, the album suffers in its own blandness and lack of substance. It’s songs like “Rob the Bank” or “Too Many Friends” that kill the vibe of the album just as its picking up speed. This album won’t do much to anyone disappointed by their last few records, and it’s not likely that it’ll pick up new fans. Loud Like Love
is the fork in Placebo’s career; where they go next is their choice; let’s hope they pick the right one.