Black Market Music



by The Ashtray Girl USER (17 Reviews)
January 16th, 2005 | 25 replies

Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist

Placebo � Black Market Music

The Band

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.

Summary 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.

Track Picks:
Special K
Spite & Malice
Passive Aggressive
Commercial For Levi
Without You I�m Nothing
I Feel You

Rating: 3.3/5

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Comments:Add a Comment 
October 31st 2004


Very good review, Theashtraygirl. :thumb:
I haven't heard much Placebo, but from what I've heard, I don't really like them.

October 31st 2004


This is my favourite Placebo album. I love it so much, and I would give it a 5. So yeah, I guess I disagree with your review. I think that every song is really strong, but eh. I don't have the bonus tracks .

October 31st 2004


I stand firm to my assessment that Placebo are one of Britain's greatest singles bands. They just seem incapable of holding it down for a full album, which is a great shame.

Nicely done with that review thing there. :p

The Ashtray Girl
November 1st 2004


You may have a point with the singles thing.

I thought Sleeping With Ghosts was quite solid though.

November 1st 2004


Great review, though I'm not a fan of Placebo. I have heard this album though, as a flatmate of mine is a Placebo fan and I've been made to listen to it at least once. It just confirmed that I don't like them, but at least I can say I've listened.

November 1st 2004


Nice review, however I must disagree with most of it. As BMM is a solid album and tracks like Black Eyed, Day's Before You Came, Black Market Blood and Blue American got the boot from you, but are some of my personal favorites.

December 13th 2005


Album Rating: 3.0

Although i dont own this album, there is some good music on this CD. I think Placebo remind me of Orgy a little (??) .. Good review also..

June 30th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

this is not a good review at all. i think your trying to convince people not to like the band. what are you thinking when you say days before you came isnt a good song, you must be a backstrret boys fan. no offense but i dont think people should write reviews about a band that they dont even like.

Cygnus Inter Anates
June 30th 2006


Just in case you didn't know, a review is written to express an opinion, whether it be positive or not. It's not about writing about something you like, but offering a balanced as possible opinion about the album and all of that.

People like you are annoying.

July 17th 2006


no offense but i dont think people should write reviews about a band that they dont even like.

We would get absolutely nowhere in life if that were the case.

July 17th 2006


yeah i agree^ hehe i'm going to see them soon i'm excited!!!

July 18th 2007


Good review.

I spent a whole summer listening to this album a lot along with some others CD's locked in my room when i was younger, i didn't like it at first but it grew on me some.

It's a very good album, but i personally didn't feel it as much as some other people might. I prefer the softer, more depressing songs on here, but there's no weak tracks IMO i really like it all as a whole. As a tradeoff nothing on here really amazes me, but it's a pleasing listen.

I've never been tempted to check out any other Placebo, i might get on it in time.

December 22nd 2009


Album Rating: 4.0

This album is definitely a grower kind of album, but you can't deny that this album is great. To me, this is their second best album.

March 8th 2011


i need to hear this; haemoglobin is fucking great.

July 21st 2011


Album Rating: 4.0

Good album. And I cant get enough of Peeping Tom and the guitar and keyboard in it. Just soo good.

April 10th 2013


Album Rating: 3.5

demi get on it

April 10th 2013


Album Rating: 3.5

wow pitchfork gave this a 2.4 back in the day what fucking plebs

November 1st 2016


Album Rating: 4.0

Great record, though it could def trim some fat.

October 3rd 2017


Album Rating: 4.0

"Brian Molko ranked this as his least favourite Placebo album"

Agreed with Brian, although to this point is so much better than loud like love, well a little bit.

October 18th 2017


Album Rating: 4.0

Blue American still vibes

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