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friend in need's a friend indeed,
a friend with weed is better
(Molko & Co)
Brian Molko (vocals, guitars)
Steve Hewitt (drums)
Stefan Olsdal (guitars, synth)
"Placebo's eyeliner-and-lipgloss power-pop will never compare favorably with the masters of the trio, the Minutemen, Hüsker Dü, the Jam, and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. And frankly, that's not the band's aim. Their aim, apparent from their first days on the scene as London Suede emulators, is to sell consistently androgynous product to teenagers titillated by the screaming parade of someone else's bisexuality. Frontman Brian Molko is as convincing in this rub-me-the-right-way-and-I'll-make-out-with-you way as Brian Warner is at ducking pantomime Alice Cooper comparisons, and the closest he gets to the Ziggy Stardust he longs to be is wearing an Aladdin Sane Halloween costume. We're never led to believe that Molko has sex with men-- in fact, he's obviously about as bisexual as Tennessee Ernie Ford. Sometimes you just have to allow a guy his own fictions. "
-- Paul Cooper, Pitchfork Media
"Debut albums don't come much more auspicious. Placebo's eponymous opener has all the hallmarks of a band destined for stardom - a style that successfully crosses the post-punk, indie and grunge genres, intelligent writing and one of the most marketable and enigmatic singers of his generation. And whilst the Placebo sound isn't yet fully developed, there is plenty for the listener to marvel at, as the androgynous Molko quickly hooks you into his own particular brand of tortured and twisted melancholy. Teenage Angst, 36 Degrees, Nancy Boy and Bruise Pristine were all destined to become singles and whilst the other tracks are not as punchy, they are equally deserved of a place here and give early notice of the band's impressive repertoire and range of ambition. "
-- Colin Patterson, for Musicfolio.com, 4/05
¼ 1998: Without You I'm Nothing
"Answering the reasons why this album is so accessible to the ear may be an attempt to strip Placebo of their claim to fame. There is no simple reason why this album grows on you after several listens. The first single Pure Morning was the song that established Placebo's presence on the Australian music market. Constant flogging on the airwaves meant that Brian Molko's unique voice has become as instantly recognisable as lets say, Robert Smith's from the Cure. Molko's voice has become associated with the opening lyric 'A friend in need's a friend indeed, a friend with weed is better' and so on. Other stand out tracks on the album include My Sweet Prince which is a slow ode to melancholy while Every You Every Me is a memorable hit from the soundtrack to the less memorable movie 'Cruel Intentions'. (...) So here we have an album that doesnt cover new musical territory but represents a generation of bands that can churn out quality music as well as quality lyrics. "
-- Peter Zangari, Workers Online, 7/99
2000: Black Market Music
"(...) Unfortunately for Placebo, it takes a little more than wearing makeup to qualify as bona fide glam. If anything, on this record, Placebo show themselves to be children of the nineties. Call it alternative with makeup (taking the next step from Kurt Cobain appearing on stage in what appeared to be one of Courtney Love's dresses). For one thing, their immense guitar sound recalls not Mick Ronson, but rather the larger than life drone of such mid-'90s acts as Smashing Pumpkins and Hum. More importantly, their music bears the indelible mark of mid-'90s alternative angst. Placebo may sing about sex and drugs, but the real issues in these songs are Molko's inner demons. This is loud confessional rock, not coy, elusive rock in the spirit of, say, Roxy Music. This alterna-angst reaches its apex on Black Eyed, a slithering rocker in which Molko sings 'I was forever black eyed, a product of a broken home.' I can think of no clearer expression of Placebo's real agenda behind all of the makeup Molko is sad and he is screaming about it. Would David Bowie ever do that? Of course not...."
-- Nicholas Taylor, popmatters
¾ 2003: Sleeping With Ghosts
"This twelve track slab of neo-Goth and teen angst is a vast improvement on the godawful 'Black Market Music' and 'Without You I'm Nothing'. Its always a risk kicking off with an instrumental and Bulletproof Cupid falls at the first hurdle. It is what Placebos detractors hate most about them - bloated, bombastic and dull. It is looking bleak as the cloying English Summer Rain points out that Britain is very wet. Really Brian? Suddenly Molkos eye for a decent tune kicks back on This Pictureand his ode to the joys or otherwise of sado-masochism is vintage Placebo. Hes such a naughty boy. Things continue to improve on the awesome title track as Molko pulls out his trademark sulky teenage vocals as he almost sighs soul mate dry your eyes/as soul mates never die. No-one does sort of sub Goth self pity better, not even Robert Smith. The awesome The Bitter End kicks up a real row as Molko moans were so anaesthetised over his trademark chiming guitar into power chord chorus. Another Poptastic student night classic for the eyeliner brigade whose parents just dont understand them. (...) 'Sleeping With Ghosts' is far better than anyone could have predicted but after four albums of essentially the same sound, its time for a long overdue change of direction. But it is good to welcome back Marc Almonds very own mini-me."
2004: Once More With Feeling: Singles: 1996-2004
"From the spiky rush of 36 Degrees through to the atmospheric new single, Twenty Years, Placebo have brought sex, glamour andabove all elsesome glorious tunes to the world of alternative rock. I dont care what Brian is like in real lifeanyone who can make a guitar sound like it does in Without You Im Nothing is alright by me. There have plenty more amazing moments over Placebos career: the way Brian sings 'Trapped in aaaambuurrr' in Teenage Angst; the galloping drums in Nancy Boy; the pause in Special K before it roars back into life; the whole of The Bitter Endand Every You Every Me. People always go on about Placebos perviness, and its true that these songs ooze sex, throb with lust and provide more thrills than a rampant rabbit vibrator and a years supply of batteries. But theres a vulnerability and tenderness beneath these songs, hints of self-loathing, that give them an emotional depth. Its not all about hedonism, even if Brian was only ever faithful to his own pleasure zone. Pure Morning is probably their best-known song, the one about friends with weed and girls with breasts and all the rest. On paper, the lyrics are absurd, but somehow the nursery-rhyme rhythms make them seem almost profound. (...) suppose I should talk about those mistakes. You Dont Care About Us steals from the Cure in the same way the Cure stole from New Order. The version of Without You Im Nothing is the one with David Bowie mumbling over the topa pointless collaboration if ever there was one. 'Once More With Feeling' contains the obligatory duff extra track too. Every greatest hits album has to contain one weak new song (its practically a law) and Placebos is called I Do. Its been hyped as their first happy songperhaps they should go back to being miserable."
-- Mark Edwards, Stylus Magazine, 11/04
½ 2006: MEDS
Tracklisting: 1. Meds 2. Infra-red 3. Drag 4. Space Monkey 5. Follow The Cops Back Home 6. Post Blue 7. Because I Want You 8. Blind 9. Pierrot The Clown 10. Broken Promise 11. One Of A Kind 12. In The Cold Light Of Morning 13. Song To Say Goodbye
"The whole teenage angst shebang with gender-bender glamour-rock poseurs Placebo was suddenly changed in 2003 with the release of their much anticipated 'Sleeping With Ghosts', when the band's voice Brian Molko and his posse traded their gloomy pretentious sound to something more inventive and brighter. (...) 'Meds' is as musically and stylistically convincing as their previous work, with Alison 'VV' Mosshart (of ubiquitous The Kills) appearance on the excellent opening which is also a title track, and some help from R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe on a more lacklustre song [Broken Promise]. The mood set by the opener is naturally supported by the classic Placebo number Infra-red and a brighter, mellower Drag. The fourth Space Monkey sounds almost like a parody to Marilyn Manson sound circa 'Mechanical Animals' era and then the album subsides in a more relaxed and less catchy tracks, but, once set, the atmosphere is quite thoroughly maintained throughout the entire album, and the disc is destined to be one of the better pop-rock British endeavours of 2006."
-- Anton Varichenko, Mindfvck.com, 01/06
½ 2009: Battle of the Sun
Tracklisting: 1.Kitty Litter 2.Ashtray Heart 3.Battle For The Sun 4.For What Its Worth 5.Devil In The Details 6.Bright Lights 7.Speak In Tongues 8.The Never - Ending Why 9.Julien 10.Happy Youre Gone 11.Breathe Underwater 12.Come Undone 13.Kings Of Medicine
"Lets face it, Placebo have never been much of an uplifting kind of band, and are more a soundtrack to committing suicide than a party anthem. Why then, do we find them so utterly compelling? Their latest album, 'Battle For The Sun', is no more exciting than watching paint dry, but somehow its controlled and delicate pace in each song is completely different to anything weve heard from the lads before. Let's face it, Brian Molko is the King of delivering goth-like angst through lyric after lyric of nasal whine, but on this album, it's like someone has left him out in the sun for too long as he has a new optimism towards life and the album *shock horror* adds a little bit of diversity to the depressing stuff this trio usually rolls off. Lead single from the album, For What Its Worth, is what initially made me sit up and take notice of this band again when I first hear it a couple of months ago. (...) Elsewhere though, its much of the same Placebo slow and precise deliverance, with title track Battle For The Sun and closer, Kings Of Medicine being the two stand out tracks here for me."
-- letssingit.com, 6/09
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