Review Summary: For all its tough to swallow, high reaching feel, Placebo have constructed another worthy entry to their decades-spanning catalogue.
For all its tough to swallow, high reaching feel, Placebo have constructed another worthy entry to their decades-spanning catalogue with their seventh LP Loud Like Love. Frontman Brian Molko, bassist Stephan Osdal and drummer Steve Forrest (competently replacing Steve Hewitt Post-Meds) give fans and newcomers alike a modern take on their sound while only scarcely showing their age. Now, I’ll admit up front that I actually enjoyed Battle for the Sun, though I can acknowledge where their departure of sound compromised many fans going into that album. The follow up Loud Like Love sees the sexually questionable trio settling into a heartfelt and enjoyable middle ground with their modernized alt-rock sound. It’s something that plays closer to a modern reimagining of Sleeping With Ghosts than the direction things were going with the B3 EP.
Opening with the title track ‘Loud like Love’, we’re lead in with a delight of a riff, and it’s so specifically Placebo. Wearily, this dives head first into a nearly trademarked stadium filler echoing off of 2009’s Battle for the Sun, but with ‘Scene of the Crime’ the band finds it’s more experimental groove and things really take off. ‘Rob the Bank’ perhaps charges a little too headfirst into a political jam but it ultimately surfaces with some solid instrumentation bolstered by a political backdrop. ‘Million Little Pieces’ is one of the real standouts here however, transitioning the album into its harder hitting latter half.
At only ten songs, Loud Like Love keeps itself tight and consistent throughout. The depth in Placebo’s sound comes not through its production, but through Brian Molko’s lyrical work; he simply outdoes himself. While he seems so eager to ignore what critics have to say about him in ‘Too Many Friends’, the themes radiating through tracks like ‘Hold on to Me’ and ‘Million Little Pieces’ are poignantly self-aware. And playing to its benefit, the album is produced clearly, with each lyric audible above the booming sound written to compliment.
‘Begin the End’ and ‘Bosco’ close off the album with brilliant execution. As the album plummets to its soft confession and in the final verses it’s hard to not feel as if the bright colors splashed across the album artwork deceive us from the much darker undertone. Looking closer, there’s more under the surface of this album than appears at first listen. It would be easy to label Loud Like Love as Placebo aging into obscurity but the truth is that this offering is something much more fresh.
The bittersweet legacy of Placebo continues strong with Loud Like Love, though it probably won’t do much for exhausted fans. I do believe however, that bands evolve and grow over time, and though those evolutions may often put off their oldest followers, it shouldn’t negate who the band is. It shouldn’t be that in order to enjoy a band you must to subscribe to all the directions they choose in their sound. Placebo nevertheless finds a way to challenge its listener to feel their sound, for better or worse. This is what ultimately creates the division of those that will either love this album or hate it. But to undying fans and newcomers alike, I highly recommend Loud Like Love as a true to form offering from a group that finds a way to breathe new life into their old sound without compromising what makes them so uplifting to so many people.