Sorted magAZine
Album Reviews
FeaturesAlbum ReviewsConcert ReviewsSingle Reviews
Beats per MinuteSordidDistortedIndustry GuideContact UsArchives

Placebo - Black Market Music (Hut)

I must admit, I've never really understood Placebo. They have released a number of truly classic singles, 'Nancy Boy' and 'Pure Morning' in particular, sharp pieces of androgynous indie pop music. Then their albums come along, and apart from those same singles, the rest tends to be a morass of sub-Sonic Youth guitar feedback and noise, with Brian Molko's voice sounding excessively whiney and droning. Not that the albums are bad, per se, it's just that they never live up to the expectations of the singles and always disappoint.

This time around, however, things are slightly different. There hasn't been a great single. 'Taste in Men' sound exactly like one of their usual album tracks, while 'Slave to the Wage' features a Pavement sample, for God's sake. In short, there were no high expectations of sharp, sassy pop songs this time and therefore no disappointment when they don't materialise. 'Special K', a rather perverse ditty comparing a partner to horse tranquillisers, is the track that's most like the singles Placebo, up-beat, sexy and a less whiney than normal vocal performance. 'Spite & Malice' is an interesting experiment that doesn't quite work - matching whiney Molko with a Beastie Boys style rap from Justin Warfield and a dark and nasty industrial style refrain. The idea itself isn't all that bad, but the rap pieces just sound far too derivative and the American accent far too fake. Maybe it would have worked better if old style UK alternative-rap bands like PWEI or Gaye Bykers on Acid had been the template rather than the incredibly obvious Beastie Boys.

'Passive Aggressive' takes things down a peg or two, leaping back ten years into the pre-Nirvana indie sound of mismatched guitar noises and vocals. It's reminiscent of bands like Swervedriver and God Machine and sounds hopelessly out of date. Much better is 'Black-Eyed', razor sharp backing and a deliciously screwed up lyric about being screwed up. And on it goes, up and down in tempo and quality, but never quite hitting their potential for true greatness. Maybe they don't actually have that potential, as this really does have to go down as their third mediocre album.

Donnacha DeLong

Forum The Sorted magAZine discussion forum is back, just click on the text above.

What's On
Tired of trawling through event listings, 95% of which you have absolutely no interest in? Try ours, it's guaranteed Crap Free TM

Update List
Enter your email address below and click go