Placebo: Never Let Me Go (Rise/BMG) | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Monday, August 15th, 2022  


Never Let Me Go


Apr 01, 2022 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

It’s been a long, long time since we’ve had a new record from gender fluid rockers Placebo, and on their eighth album, Never Let Me Go, Brian Molko and Stefan Olsdal have stuck close to their well-trodden territory of teenage angst, seething anger, drugged up paranoia, and cinematic melodrama. Having been made to wait for so long, the worry amongst their fans, no matter how diehard, is that the pair have lost their edge in all that time.

Fortunately, their latest LP is still loaded with such nasty, scuzzed up songs as “Hugz,” which is clearly indebted to their long-term influence Sonic Youth, right down to pinching lines from “Kool Thing.” Plus “Chemtrails” is brilliantly blistering, and “Twin Demons” goes big on the riffs in an era when everyone seems scared of centring their sound around the guitar, and it’s a relief to hear snarling walls of distortion once again.

But it’s their knack for penning perfect lighter waving melancholic epics and defining chest clutching statements that has elevated Placebo from mere glam punk Bowie copyists/grunge obsessives to genuine stars, and the aching anthem “Beautiful James” is easily amongst their best whilst “Happy Birthday in the Sky” is wonderfully forlorn and fatigued.

Make sure you check out their brooding, mutated take on trip hop, “Surrounded By Spies,” and album opener “Forever Chemicals” is everything that you would want from a Placebo song. Bitterly despondent but gleefully hedonistic, its nursery rhyme pace and patter are reminiscent of one of their greatest hits, “Every Me and Every You,” albeit built around broken beats found on an iPad app. Similarly, “The Prodigal” also has echoes of the same song but gone way wrong and this pop pastiche feels strange for strangeness sake—borrowing heavily from the building end of “Under Pressure” without ever reaching Bowie’s panache or Mercury’s passion.

Other tagged on tracks include “Sad White Reggae,” which appears to be just left-over lyrics and ideas, packed into a Frankenstein mess of a song. And both “Try Better Next Time” and “This Is What You Wanted” feel a bit too much like filler, barely above B-side status (hey, remember them?) whilst closing tracks “Went Missing” and “Fix Yourself” bring their eighth album to a gentle end rather than a spectacular explosion or the implied impacting implosion.

This won’t be anyone’s favourite Placebo album, but Never Let Me Go is a good solid effort from a band with a considerably lengthy career behind them that hasn’t dropped a record in nearly a decade. So, it’s good to hear that they’re still around and continuing to push themselves, though perhaps just not far enough to be truly remarkable. (

Author rating: 6.5/10

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