Review Summary: Once Upon A Time Placebo were just a bunch of kids playing music. To me this is their best album, it contains something fresh and exciting that they havent offered in years.
This is my first review so go easy on me guys = )
Placebo is (at this stage):
Brain Molko- lead vocals, guitar, keyboard, harmonica and saxophone
Stefan Oldsdal- Vocals, bass guitar, keyboard and second guitar
and Robert Schultzberg- drums, percussion
Placebo was formed when, in 1994, former schoolmates Brain Molko and Stefan Oldsdal ran into each other at South Kensington station and decided to form a band. For a short time the band were known as ashtray heart, Brain and Stefan accompanied by Steve Hewitt a friend of Molko who played the drums began playing small gigs around London.
After about 5 of these gigs the band began attracting the attention of various record companies but due to Hewitts commitments with another band he withdrew his position and was replaced by Robert Schultzberg. In the January of 1996 the band, now known as Placebo signed with Hut records and from there recorded their self-titled release.
Begins with a simple drum beat which is then backed by a palm muted guitar riff finally joined by some simple bass. The verses are cut up with singing and the opening riff of the song. A strong opener that is both attention catching and appealing, but not the best song on the album. 4/5
This is the song that introduced me to Placebo and one of their best as well. The song hooks you from the first note to the last desperate lyric. Although the song is about teenage problems and depression “since I was born I started to decay, now nothing ever, ever goes my way” it is reasonably uplifting and the main guitar riff is recognizable immediately. The song doesn’t display any insane solos or great lyrics but the simplicity and theme of the song is genius. 5/5
The next song takes a step down. It begins with bass solo which is soon joined by Molko and Schultzberg. From the amazing simplicity of Teenage Angst comes a song that it is over used in, only 7 words in a 5 minute song becomes slightly tedious but Molko’s solos score some brownie points. 3/5
Where to start? The very first Placebo single, this song wasn’t accepted by the music community at all, but my favorite Placebo song of all time. The first time I heard this song I was inspired and couldn’t stop listening. It hit me from the hi-hat hammering drumming and meaningful lyrics by Molko in the into. To the cleverly placed guitar solos by Oldsdal (it’s my understanding he plays baritone guitar in this song). Lyrics such as “I was more than blind, lost without a clue, thought I was getting caret gold but what I got was you” dragged me into the song. The chorus breaks down slightly and places emphasis on the lyrics. It also provides a needed short break from the fast pace of the rest of the song. I can not find a fault in this entire song. The lyrics, instruments, every part of this song is brilliant. Buy this album for this song, or just download it or whatever. 5/5
Hang Onto Your IQ:
When a song is placed after the albums best it always suffers. In this case it affects my listening of this song. Musically the band isn’t offering much, it lacks layers which the song before used so well. The lyrics of the song are slightly jumbled in my opinion, one moment Molko is discussing the value of your identity the next he is telling us he’s lonely. All in all a decent song but its position on the album does make it suffer. 3.5/5
The song that made Placebo who they are on the charts, it was one of the peaks of their commercial success hitting #4 on the UK charts. The song opens with some Molko guitar strumming which is then joined by the bass and drums. The verse of the song is instantly catching, the slightly out of time singing adds to the effect. With a powerful chorus that stands tall in the song it is obvious to see why the song appealed to the charts. I am still trying to work out whether the song is about a male or female, maybe both (Molko been bisexual) but whatever goes I guess. 4.5/5
This song is a welcomed change from the electric guitar, electric bass and drums. The song opens with acoustic guitar and possibly a didgeridoo. The verse consists of an acoustic guitar and percussion. The lyrics of the song are sung very heartfelt and are easy to relate to “I know you’ve got me rapped around your finger”. The chorus picks up slightly and fits in well with the song. This song provides a well needed breathe of fresh air and is the most relatable song on the album. 4.5/5
Every time I listen to this song I feel so uneasy for some reason, to me this song creates a great mood and seems much darker than the rest of the album, the clever guitar riff that is used in the verses and deep lyrics helps establish this darker mood. This song is standout on the album, the only criticism I can say is the instrumental section in the middle of the song does stretch out for to long. 5/5
Lady of the Flowers:
This song has a very different beginning than the other songs on the album and slows down the album from the anxious Bruise Pristine. The verses don’t contain much emphasis on instruments and is all spoken. It then enters a singing segment by Molko. The chorus of the song is really powerful and striking to me, with meaningful lyrics sung in a slightly regrettable tone. “Confused and wrecked with self doubt. She stole the keys to my house and then she locked herself out”. Again the band explore something new and different on the album, this song has so much meaning to me. 5/5
Hmm. This song is entirely spoken-word and creates a similar mood to Bruise Pristine. There really isn't much to this song, it lacks the diversity and dimension to be regarded highly on this album. The song repeats over and over for almost 5 minutes. It's a real strain listening to the entire song start to finish. The song does score points though for been something new and different from the band, the reflective tone does make it a suitable album finisher.
All in all a fantastic album, Placebo have created a work of art in some of the songs but the fillers (bionic and swallow) do drag down my rating of the album. The diversity of the record makes it one of a kind. I suggest buying this album first out and gving it a few listens if you are interested in Placebo.
Favourite Songs (in order):
Lady of the flowers