By Paul Faithfull
September 18, 2013
Loud Like Love is the seventh album from Placebo, and their first since 2009’s Battle For The Sun. The title track features the muscular riffing and a catchy chorus resplendent of their radio friendly tunes from the late ’90s. In fact rather annoyingly, frontman Brian Molko doesn’t seem to have aged a day since the days of ‘Nancy Boy’ and ‘Pure Morning’ going from the evidence of the official video for ‘Loud Like Love’.
The second track from the album ‘Scene of the Crime’ is a marked change of pace compared to the opener, with its seemingly confessional lyric examining a novel viewpoint surrounding the ending of a relationship. Whilst the first couple of tracks certainly maintain all of the hallmarks of Placebo’s sound, they also feature prominent keyboard parts complementing the guitar lines, alongside some more esoteric synth sounds.
The plaintive ‘Too Many Friends’ is a song lamenting the prevalence of the internet and social networking over making a real connection. Beginning with gentle piano accompaniment, this track evolves into a track reminiscent of some of Depeche Mode’s heavier output, with the synths taking a leading role again. Whilst this track could have re-hashed the same subject in much the same way that other artists have, Molko’s wry sense of humour shines through here, giving the song a unique edge.
‘Rob The Bank’ is a more straightforward rocker, with chugging guitars providing a bedrock for some searing lead lines, which falls away for a much welcomed breakdown in the middle eight. This track is a call to arms for people to reject the money-centric lifestyle, calling them to indeed rob the banks, which seems at odds with the rest of the album’s essays about relationships. It often seems weird for established acts to be calling for social change when they have no real history of it; I find it rather difficult to listen to a rich rock star telling me to bring the system down when they’ve just signed with a new major label.
Opening with a lyrical piano melody, ‘A Million Little Pieces’ is a slower track, which gives Molko’s lyrics an opportune moment to take centre stage. This layered track with strings augmenting the mix is a fantastic example of Placebo’s abilities to use light and shade to maintain interest within a piece of music.
Overall this album contains enough big choruses and memorable hooks to live in the memory for a good while after the music has stopped. Whilst the days of widespread appeal and the immediacy of earlier hit singles has certainly passed, fans of intelligently written rock music with a twist or two along the way will certainly enjoy this offering.