red lights


London post-glam trio
takes a sleeping pill

Placebo - Meds
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: May 20, 2006

Review by Tony Bonyata

On Placebo's fifth full-length album, Meds, the London post-glam rock trio has returned to familiar subjects and paths that they've previously traversed - sex, drugs and rock & roll. But instead of locking into a musical formula from their own past, Meds finds one of the UK's most successful bands of the last decade (having sold one million albums in the UK and 6 million worldwide) broadening their palette to mixed results.
Songs such as "Infra-Red," which is led by singer/ guitarist Brian Molko's intoxicating guitar-line and nasally, androgynous vocal delivery, the opening edgy title track "Meds," along with the more straight-laced alternative pop of "Drag" and "Because I Want You" still prove that these guys possess much of the song-craft of their past - albeit without the swishy bombast that made their 1998 Without You I'm Nothing album so intriguing.
Expanding their sound, the band has incorporated a more stripped-down techno approach to a few numbers such as "Post Blue," the hallucinatory psychedelic pop-dirge of "Space Monkey" and the vertigo-inducing "One Of A Kind." While the mechanized beats and synthetic effects work on these numbers, there are others, such as "Follow The Cops Back Home" and "In The Cold Light Of Morning," that are nothing but dreary, moping album filler. Even the piano-kissed ballad-turned-aggro-rocker "Broken Promise," which features guest vocalist Michael Stipe (REM) adding some uninspired mumbling, fails to add interest to the mix.
Despite never truly getting their ya-yas out here, the band manages to shine, not on any of the guitar-fueled numbers, but rather on the harrowing, beautiful balladry of the murkily mixed "Pierrot The Clown," where Molko's knack for honing a haunting melody steeped in both melancholy and hope is still fully intact a decade on in their career.

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