Loud Like Love
It can be easy to forget quite how famous Placebo were in the 1990s and Noughties. Brian Molko’s glam-goth outfit carved an enviably distinctive niche, as evidenced by their list of collaborators, live and on record: David Bowie, The Cure’s Robert Smith, Michael Stipe of REM. Like the latter group, Molko and Co hit a creative wall after that commercial heyday, however, and while their seventh album aims for a bold new direction, it seems to have swerved back down the same old road. Loud Like Love is a concept affair about, yes, love, and yet the singer still yelps every word as if being poked with something sharp and possibly poisonous. His hard-rocking band rose to prominence by tackling provocative issues in song, but here their typically spiky guitars are offset by some horribly amateurish lyrics. Hold on to Me and Rob the Bank sound particularly rushed and repetitive, while the pleasingly mature arrangements of the closing two tracks, Begin the End and Bosco, merely emphasise the adolescent awkwardness of Molko’s musings. He turned 40 last year. Time for a rethink.