Sound — 7
Since their debut in 1996, Placebo has been a kind of oddball band and they've continued to travel further down that road with each release. Placebo's lyrical themes have explored gender identity and androgyny to such an extent that they are considered characteristics of the band's psychology. They've also been known to mix Britpop, electronic music, grunge, post-punk and alternative rock to such a degree that they are difficult to label. Other common lyrical themes are drugs and drug use. Early in their career they were befriended by David Bowie, who briefly acted loosely as a mentor for the young band. "Loud Like Love" has 10 tracks with a total runtime of just under 50 minutes. The tracks "Too Many Friends" and the title track "Loud Like Love" were the first two singles released from the album. The album opens up with the track "Loud Like Love" which calls to mind some comparisons the band has received to The Cure with the intro melody, but as the song gets into full swing it moves away from that comparison. "Scene of the Crime" is next up with hand-clapping adding to the percussion of the song, and interesting vocal vibrato throughout he track. "Too Many Friends," the lead single from the album, is a pretty strong track from the album, though some of its thunder is stolen by lyrics such as "my computer thinks that I am gay/ I threw that piece of junk away." The fourth track, "Hold On to Me," shows a return of the prevalent vocal vibrato that Brian Molko does so well. "Rob the Bank" is the most strongly "post-punk" track on the album, which is carried mostly by a surprisingly simple yet strong bass line. "A Million Little Pieces" reminds me of a lot of early singles by R.E.M., such as "Shiny Happy People" and "Losing My Religion." "Exit Wounds" has an old school electronica percussion intro and takes its time building to a more conventional alt rock/ art rock track. "Purify" has a more industrial sounding intro, which builds to a pretty strong indie pop chorus. "Begin the End" is possibly the most emotionally riveting track on the album, and somehow works with a rather rudimentary techno-like drum part running throughout. The album closes out with the track, "Bosco," which was honestly just really weird, but I believe is supposed to be a love song.
Lyrics — 6
Brian Molko has a fairly unique voice, and that is always a plus to me as I like distinctive vocals with my music. Stefan Olsdal provided backing vocals, but honestly they weren't very prominent in the mix and were barely noticed. Molko has an interesting voice and possibly some of the most distinctive vocal vibrato, but honestly his vibrato was used so excessively on the album it began to really turn me off of several songs on the album. The lyrics ran the gamut on the album, and while I really enjoyed some of the lyrics there were others that I thought were really strange or were downright stupid (and unintentionally stupid, which is worse than ironically stupid). To give you an example of the lyrics, here are some of the lyrics from the track "Rob the Bank": "Rob the bank/ of England and America/ rob the bank/ of the entire Eurozone/ rob the bank/ of Mexico and Canada/ rob the bank/ then take me home/ and take me home/ and make love/ and make love/ and make love/ rob the bank/ and make a joke out of dyslexia/ rob the bank/ then pick your nose/ rob the bank/ paint a picture of a swastika/ rob the bank/ then take me home/ but take me home."
Overall Impression — 6
I've been an "on again off again" fan of Placebo for a long time, since I heard "Pure Morning" in the nineties. I came to this album wanting to like it, but after several listens there are songs I like but just as many that I don't care for - and a few that I dislike pretty strongly. The songs from the album that I liked are "Exit Wounds," "Too Many Friends" (despite a few lyrical lines that I felt were ridiculous), "Scene of the Crime" and "Loud Like Love." The ones I liked the least were probably "Hold On to Me" and "Bosco." The bottom line is there are some good tracks on the album, and then there are several that are mediocre and run together.