Sound — 9
Placebo have made an unexpected and rather successful come-back with their newest album, Battle For The Sun. We see some new faces, probably the most noticeable one being young Steve Forrest on drums, replacing former long term drummer Steve Hewitt. This change, no matter how disappointing to Hewitt's fans (myself being among them), did seem necessary after the torture-tornado that was the Meds tour, if Brian Molko's words are anything to go by. Forrest's drumming by itself is quite livelier than Hewitt's, which fits quite well with Battle For The Sun's lively atmosphere. Indeed, out of all of Placebo's previous albums, Battle For The Sun is the one that least ''wallows in pity'' and ''watches the bruises turn to yellow''. Instead it rages on and fights to be (like it or not) Placebo's most optimistic album to date. Unlike its predecessor Meds (or at least my impression of it) it isn't afraid to be loud and doesn't pretend to be better than it actually is, which already adds a fair amount of points. Placebo's unexpected use of brass and a fair amount of strings is executed very, very well executed, especially considering Placebo have had very little experience with it in the past. The keyboards and effects are also used to bring out the maximum in all of the songs, but that isn't anything new. The emotions vary, from the desperate desire of ''Kitty Litter'', over the beautiful and optimistic romance of ''Speak In Tongues'' ending with confessions and regrets of an alcoholic in ''Kings Of Medicine''. Most tracks begin calmly and slowly build up to be epic, dance/jump-provoking songs that fill stadiums in under a second with their contagious sound. I'm pretty sure you can already tell this album was pretty much designed to be played live. And truly, Placebo's live performances bring out the best in these songs.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics are noticeably simpler and much more subtle than on their previous albums and use very little cheap tricks to make you listen. The lyrics are overall well written and don't lack Molko's skilled use of metaphors. At moments they can be lazy and slightly predictable (''Come Undone'' for example) and not to mention repetitive (''Happy You're Gone''), but despite that Molko never fails to hit that tender spot in your heart if you let him. It will be hard to get used to the lyrics being so subtle, and as the slowest person alive it took me 5 months to realize ''Julien'' was completely about drug abuse, and that's just because Molko got on stage and actually said it. Fortunately it's not the kind of subtleness that barely makes you get it even when told the subject, but more like making you slap your forehead and say ''Of course!''. The lyrics overall give each song a personality and theme of its own and don't just try to impress you with long words and names of different kinds of medicine. Molko's vocals also sound much more passionate than before and definitely impress.
Overall Impression — 9
In all honesty I loved this album, it's not the most amazing album Placebo ever created, but an improvement to the lifeless attempt at ''maturity'' that was Meds. It's simple, honest and simply what music should be. Highlights being the story of a young man who experimented with narcotics, ''Julien'' and its amazing use of strings, ''Speak In Tongues'' and the new-born classic ''Kings Of Medicine''. It is not without its flaws, one being the complete lack of slower songs and the sometimes slightly irritating anthem-y sound. However I definitely do not regret buying it. As Brian Molko said it himself, it is the flip side of Meds, its complete opposite, so if we're going to generalize, I'd say that if you absolutely loved Meds, you're not going to be too fond of Battle For The Sun. I, however, like the direction my now favorite band is heading.