Placebo � Black Market Music
Brian Molko: Vocals, lead guitar
Stefan Olsdal: Bass guitar
Steven Hewitt: Drums
Placebo came out of a band formed in London in 1994 by Molko and Olsdal called Ashtray Heart. The two met by chance outside a tube station but had in fact attended the same American school in Luxembourg. They then joined up with Hewitt who was playing in a band called Breed, but Hewitt was unable to commit straight away so the band released one double a side on the Fierce Panda label with Robert Schultzburg.
After that, Hewitt returned to the band, they signed to the Hut label and released their self-titled debut. They have also released the album Without You I�m Nothing
The album kicks off with a slightly electronic rhythm and some sounds that could be straight out of How Soon Is Now"
by The Smiths. Molko�s vocals come in, as distinctive as ever and infinitely catchy. Taste In Men
may be repetitive lyrically but it has a definite groove to it that hooks you in to the album. There is some dubious instrumental work towards the end which spoils it a bit, but during the verses this is a kick-ass song.
We then have Days Before You Came
and Special K
, both of which are good songs, but Days Before You Came
is really nothing to write home about as the melody is a little weak and there�s no particular appeal. Special K
is better, good backing vocals, slightly more interesting lyrics and a good build-up to what is a fantastic chorus.
Then we have Spite & Malice
, Placebo�s foray into the murky world of rap metal. Miraculously, they manage to pull it off, as thankfully they do not allow Molko to rap, but get Warfield in who does a solid job, but nothing too impressive. A very good song rhythmically, and once again we have a killer chorus and some well used power chords.
We then move into a quieter section, which could well fit in on their most recent album Sleeping With Ghosts
. Passive Aggressive
is a very pretty song, a lovely little guitar riff and some very very understated vocals for the verses complete with some genuine emotion from Molko in the choruses as he sings �every time I rise I see you falling�. Black-Eyed
has a slightly different sound, but still indicative of the direction they will move into. A weak guitar track but it has a lot of movement and drive to it. Blue American
can be summed up by Molko�s own lyrics on the track �it sounds pretentious�, this is the kind of song Eminem might have written in another life. After a few listens, you�ll just hit the skip button.
Thankfully, we then move out of the slow, depressed section of the album, which was getting somewhat tiresome and move on to Slave To The Wage
. Irritating guitar, but more of a beat and another cracker of a chorus. Commercial For Levi
is a little more experimental and it pays off � this is one of the best tracks on the album. Molko�s vocals are clearer and simpler than usual which adds a lot more quality. Some glockenspiel indicates a little more thought and the lyrics are reminiscent of Nancy Boy
except with a rather direct and touching entreaty to �don�t die, don�t die, please don�t die�. The guitar and bass pick up here as they drop the distortion and focus on actually playing some notes.
Sadly, once we get to Haemoglobin
the band go slightly off the boil. The next three songs are reasonable, but one wonders whether they really should have made the cut and could have been b-sides instead. Perhaps they simply could have been worked on a little more and given a bit more zip.
We then move on to the bonus tracks, which are much more worthy of being included. How they got David Bowie I shall never know, even though Molko and Bowie do have a fair amount in common. Without You I�m Nothing
is a fantastic song, dark, brooding, mysterious with slightly mystical lyrics. The two voices complement each other surprisingly well. Bowie declaring �tick tock� for the bridges is very sinister and some of the better guitar playing on the album make this a huge highlight. The pre-chorus and chorus especially are wonderful. If you like nothing else on this album, you may well like this.
Then we get the cover of I Feel You
which is another wonderful track. Great guitar, great bass, great drums and great singing, this is the band at its best, it�s just a shame it�s on someone else�s song. There is also a hidden track called Black Market Blood
which isn�t really worth the effort, like so many of these hidden tracks, yet isn�t too appalling either. It�s very hypnotic and atmospheric, but also a bit dreary and repetitive.
Not a very consistent album, but some good tracks and each song meets a certain standard of songwriting, even if it�s a relatively low one. Worth at least one listen if you like the band or like slightly moody, atmospheric alternative music, but if you�re not convinced by what you�ve heard on the radio then chances are you wouldn�t like the album.
Spite & Malice
Commercial For Levi
Without You I�m Nothing
I Feel You