Released: Jun 9, 2009
Genre: Alternative rock
Label: Vagrant Records
Number Of Tracks: 13
While Battle For The Sun does have its moments, it often becomes mired in the monotonous lyrics of Brian Molko.
Battle For The Sun
UG Team, on june 09, 2009 1 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: For their 6th album Battle For The Sun, Placebo has a few fresh faces added into the mix, namely drummer Steve Forres and producer David Bottrill (Tool, Muse). It's pretty much a given that Bottrill's production value is top-notch, so any concern that has arisen has revolved around Forrest replacing 10-year veteran Steve Hewitt. No one will argue that Hewitt has a unique style to his playing, but fans should be pleasantly surprised with Forrest's ability, which stands out in its own right on Battle For The Sun. In terms of the core songwriting, however, Placebo is still fairly inconsistent. And as expected, vocalist/guitarist Brian Molko just loves to repeat the same lyrics over and over again.
If there's one thing that Placebo does quite well, it's book-ending their CDs with memorable songs. The opener Kitty Litter is precisely the kind of song that draws you in with its infectious, guitar-driven intro and energetic chorus. The closing track Kings of Medicine stands out in its own right with big, horn-filled sections that stray from the usual rock format. From its quirky, lighthearted beginning to the subtle Arabic flourishes that pop up while the title is being sung, Kings of Medicine is a pretty hefty undertaking as a whole and does show Placebo at its most creative.
Elsewhere on the album, the band still thrives on unusual keyboard lines that are at times more prominent than the guitars. Whether it's the 1980's-tinged synth of Bright Lights or the quietly introspective chimes in Speak In Tongues, there is no shortage of creative effects. The bass and guitar do have their moments, with Kitty Litter and Breathe Underwater being a few of the more traditionally rock-oriented tunes. You could also throw Ashtray Heart in that same category, but that particular one falls flat with its lackluster attempt at being a pop punk song. There are certainly moments when songs could have even used a few more bells and whistles, if only because Placebo tends to have a cyclical musical format.
There are probably plenty of listeners out there that do love how Molko uses the same lyrics over and over again in pretty much every song, but it does get tiresome on several tracks. The main offender is actually the title track, which is dragged down by Molko's choice of words. Battle For The Sun would actually be a very cool song with its interesting use of percussion and steady guitar line, but it's hard to enjoy those elements because of Molko's predictable delivery. // 7
Lyrics: Molko does have some interesting ideas and every once in awhile does elaborate on those themes, but too often he gets stuck in a rut. Battle For The Sun was mentioned earlier, and Molko's drawn-out delivery on that track drives this point home (I, I, I, will battle for the sun, sun, sun; And I, I, I wont stop until I'm done, done, done; You, you, you are getting in the way, way, way; And I, I, I have nothing left to say, say, say). Pretty much every song does follow a similar format, with key lyrics repeated several times over and while it does work every once in awhile it tends to get old by the 13th track. // 6
Overall Impression: Battle For The Sun does have its moments, particularly when seemingly quiet, mellow tunes explode into big, epic compositions. Placebo gets it right in a few tracks, with Julien being the main example. Between its dark, moody intro that features a sonic thumping sound to the big, string-filled end, Julien is nearly a perfect song. There are standout moments within certain songs, but they tend to be sporadic. Battle For The Sun isn't Placeb's most forward-thinking album, but it does feature some interesting choices in instrumentation and more than a few dance-worthy tracks. // 7
Battle For The Sun
Confetti, on june 09, 2009 0 of 5 people found this review helpful
Sound: So Placebo is back with their sixth studio album and a huge step into a different direction from what they were during the album Meds. First of all there was a chance in lineup with Steve Hewitt left the band due to personal and musical differences he had. And now he is replaced with Steve Forrest that what is a big disapointment for me because when it comes to style I have always loved Hewitt and the way he comes out in the records even though he never has been someone you would call a genious. Forrest has a little something similiar but most of the things he does are just a part of the Placebo sound an quite frankly he isn't that creative. Other chances that has happened is that there is more electronic ticking around that like in Meds are not maid for the background but to smack you straight in the face. The best way I could descrive the sound is generic indie pop electronica. After hearing the record I'm not at all supprised that Hewitt left the band. // 5
Lyrics: Seems that Molkos writing pen has dulled during these couple of years. Many song lyrics on this record are just pale shadows of their earlier material and mostly the songs are really repeative. Why does it always is like this with Placebo that they make an more electronic album they forget to really make an effort with lyrics? Through out years Molko has been on of the best lyricists in the alternative rock wave but even the best of us can do pretty shitty job when time takes it's toll. Not only the lyrics have suffered but even Molkos voice just sounds tired and uninspired. // 6
Overall Impression: Sad that one of the best alternative rock bands of all time sink so low materia wise. It couldn't be that bad if this record would be their last if they are going to continue with this path they have chocen. If you would want a junction to a nother Placebo album then it would be Sleeping With Ghosts. Even the things that worked on that album don't work on this one. Only song that actually sounds pretty damn good is Come Undone but just on song doesn't make any album a good one... Or maybe if the song would be 45 minutes long or something. At least the last 2 songs leave a good taste in your mouth but I bet it will disappear when you give the album a second spin. This record is something that you would assume to be some sort of a B-side collection. Not a full lenght album. If I would lose this album I wouldn't even notice because I wouldn't put in on my record player anymore. // 5
Battle For The Sun
unregistered, on july 13, 2009 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: The sound of this album is quite a departure from Placebo's previous albums, a style bound to bemuse some and thrill others. Where we once had the raucous distorted guitars of the first three albums, the dancey beats of Black Market Music and Sleeping with Ghosts, and the anaethetised sensitivity of Meds, Placebo have finally combined all these varying styles to produce a sound that to me, is a culmination of all their fantastic work to date. Battle For The Sun features elements of all these albums, while still carving out it's own niche in their back catalogue, perhaps thanks to the exquisite use of strings and a subtle brass section. The production work of David Bottrill has definitely impacted the sound of this album, conveying the passion and energy that Placebo have always been famed for in a live capacity. Indeed, if you turn it up loud enough you can imagine yourself at a gig! // 10
Lyrics: Brian Molko's lyrics have always been a drug to some, and a repellant to others. I am part of the former camp, a person who can really relate to Molko's tortured words. On this album he has struck a perfect balance between the dark and the light, at times elevating you to an optimistic high ("Speak in Tongues"), to drop you straight back down to something darker ("Devil In The Details"). While on occasion the lyrics can seem slightly lazy ("Come Undone" being a prime example), overall they fit perfectly with the rollercoaster of emotion that is "Battle for the Sun". // 9
Overall Impression: Placebo have always been a band that you cannot compare to anything else. However, if I had to draw influences, I would say that Sonic Youth play quite a part in this album. They have always been a strong influence, especially on Brian Molko, and never is this more evident than in the opening track "Kitty Litter", a song with a bemusing title but almost unexpectedly fantastic music and melody. The album begins brilliantly, and other stand-out tracks include the title track's motivated perseverance, the dark introspection of "Devil In The Details", the uplifting romance of "Speak In Tongues", the cautionary string symphony of "Julien", the frustrated sadness of "Happy You're Gone", and the retrospective brass tune of "Kings Of Medicine". A must for any fan, new or old, and anyone who wants to investigate the true variety that this band is capable of. // 10
Battle For The Sun
unregistered, on january 07, 2010 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: 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. // 9
Lyrics: 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. // 8
Overall Impression: 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. // 9