Saturday, May 30, 2009

Placebo: "Battle for the Sun" album review

There's much familiar and comforting on Battle for the Sun, the forthcoming sixth studio album from UK alt-glam veterans Placebo.  

The album, to be released June 9th, features the uniquely nasal vocals of androgynous singer Brian Molko and rife with his themes of self-loathing and defiance.  Tracks like "For What It's Worth" and "Breathe Underwater" will sound instantly familiar to fans, as will the cathartic "Kings of Medicine".  The quasi-electronic blend of Glam rock ("Ashtray Heart" features a New York Dolls-worthy refrain), power pop, and Brit pop is woven throughout the record.

Molko and company do have some new tricks up their sleeves.  There is a new pop sensibility on the record, manifesting itself in little bits and pieces such as the hand clap bridge on the opener "Kitty Litter".   There is an island sound to the track "Speak In Tongues" which seems to pay homage to the Talking Heads World-influenced album of the same name.  "Happy When You're Gone" is as low key and introspective a song as we have heard from Placebo.

Occasionally the experiments go awry.  The sunny "Bright Lights" sounds like it belongs on the latest Killers album.  Things go completely off the tracks as the song lifts the "a heart that hurts/is a heart that works" line word for word from Juliana Hatfield's "Universal Heartbeat".

Some more of those experiments would be welcome as some of the songs are less than engaging for the listener.  "Devil In the Details" holds little interest beyond a rumbling drum beat.  "The Never-ending Why" grinds slowly along with no satisfactory payoff.

It must get harder for Placebo with each passing album.  They are so linked to the glam sound that listeners get upset when they don't hear it in the new songs.  However, to keep the band interesting and relevant they must move away from that perception, at least incrementally.  Battle of the Sun does both to a certain degree, but doesn't completely achieve either.

Best tracks: "Breathe Underwater", "Ashtray Heart"

Track listing for Battle for the Sun:
  • Kitty Litter
  • Ashtray Heart
  • Battle for the Sun
  • For What It's Worth
  • Devil In the Details
  • Bright Lights
  • Speak In Tongues
  • The Never-ending Why
  • Julien
  • Happy You're Gone
  • Breathe Underwater
  • Come Undone
  • Kings of Medicine

Bookmark and Share

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Placebo - Battle for the Sun (192kbps) FULL ALBUM