Updated melody that feels as relevant as it did in the 90s

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Never Let Me Go, however, demands your full attention. You won’t find another ‘Every Me and Every You’, ‘The Bitter End’, ‘Pure Morning’ or ‘Nancy Boy’ here. Rather, the album feels like it was meant to be absorbed as a whole, and each track is a stop on a hypnotic journey.

May 09, 2022, 12:15 p.m.

Last modification: 09 May 2022, 12:27

Placebo never lets me go. Photo: Collected

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Placebo never lets me go. Photo: Collected

Placebo last made a splash on the global music scene in the 1990s, when brit-pop was dominating the charts and grunge was on the way out. The band’s last full album, “Loud Like Love”, was released almost a decade ago. So, one can be forgiven for not being aware that the band is still making new music.

A sound somewhat comparable to Smashing Pumpkins, Depeche Mode, Muse and Silversun Pickups – Placebo’s music is a mix of dark alternative rock with catchy riffs and electronic undertones.

As a fan of the band, many of their tracks have remained in my playlists for decades. I was pretty excited when the band announced they would be releasing a new album in 2019, but I couldn’t help but wonder if their sound would still be relevant today. There was also a fear of wide-ranging experimentation, a prime example would be Muse trying to incorporate dubstep into their sound.

Placebo. Photo: Collected

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Placebo.  Photo: Collected

Placebo. Photo: Collected

After several delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the album ‘Never Let Me Go’ was finally released in March 2022. For better or worse, Placebo still sounds like Placebo. The sound is new, but it’s also familiar at the same time. A little more polish, synth, buzz and rattle; yet sounding as relevant as ever.

Never Let Me Go, however, demands your full attention. You won’t find another ‘Every Me and Every You’, ‘The Bitter End’, ‘Pure Morning’ or ‘Nancy Boy’ here. Rather, the album feels like it was meant to be absorbed as a whole, and each track is a stop on a hypnotic journey.

Placebo. Photo: Collected

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Placebo.  Photo: Collected

Placebo. Photo: Collected

A defining feature of the album is a powerful dose of synth that pulls you in from the very first song, “Forever Chemicals.” It almost has an experimental feel to it. The music will lift you from time to time; yet the journey seems gloomy, one might even say depressing.

The manufacturing is impeccable. A closer look at the spatial layers of the synth reveals complexities that can easily be concealed if the record is left in the background. It requires attention. Electronic elements also pair well with guitars, keyboards, bass, and drums.

This synergy will, however, make you wonder if you are dreaming or awake. It fits perfectly with the existentialism specific to writing.

It’s also worth mentioning that Brian Molko, lead guitarist and vocalist, is at his best in Never Let Me Go. The depth of his lyrics and the authority of his haunting voice is at its height throughout the album.

The album is layered and multifaceted. Several listenings are necessary to fully appreciate its brilliance. “Never Let Me Go” does an incredible job of managing the band’s signature sound and incorporating it with new electronic elements, giving way to contemporary rock trends and a very engaging experience.

This is certainly one of Placebo’s most ambitious projects to date. Forever Chemicals, Beautiful James, The Prodigal, Twin Demons, Chemtrails and Went Missing are some of the tracks that stuck with me the most.

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