Brian Molko

Underrated and Influential: Placebo

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There are bands that have come out and really influenced other people and bands but, never seem to get their due. A slew of bands from Europe have left their mark on bands from the states. The only thing is, most of America didn’t embrace it or give it a chance. One such band is Placebo. Formed in 1994 in London by singer/guitarist Brian Molko and bassist Stefan Olsdal, Placebo has left their mark in the alternative rock scene for over 20 years. Brian’s unique and distinct voice along with his beyond honest lyrics, have given great inspiration to many throughout the band’s inception.

One of the great things about Placebo is that they are a band that’s never been afraid to expand upon their sound and evolve. Originally when they came out, they were received as a “glam-rock” band by critics and the press, and over the years they worked to put themselves in a position not only escape that categorization but,  to be one of the best rock bands. Lyrically, Brian Molko paints vivid pictures with his words. He lets you in a little bit at a time, so you can understand where he is at in his life and what he has experienced. Hid lyrics are some of the most truthful and thought provoking of the last 20 plus years.

Since 1994, Placebo has released 7 full length albums, each of which get better and better. You might recall first hearing Placebo back in the movie Cruel Intentions, and their song “Every You and Every Me.” Their debut album (self titled), is full of angst and questions in regards to growing up. Something everyone could relate to. Without You I’m Nothing, the band’s second album, saw them grow by leaps and bound and explore a different side of themselves. This album went deeper and featured a more “mellow” sound, making Brian stand out even more. Over the course of the next couple albums Black Market Music and Sleeping With Ghosts, Placebo really began to cement their place in rock music, especially in Europe and with their influences like David Bowie and Robert Smith of The Cure.

My personal favorite album of theirs, Meds, is a great summation of everything the band is about. There is something special about this album. It’s dark and powerful yet it breathes a sense of calm and connection as the songs play through. Songs like “Meds,” Infra Red,” “Drag,” “Follow The Cops Back Home,” “Because I Want You,” “Song To Say Goodbye,” and the very amazing “Blind,” are absolutely perfect. Meds would also mark the last album drummer Steve Hewitt would play in the band. Placebo has gone on to release 2 more full lengths, Battle For The Sun and Loud Like Love, which take the band on a different approach, incorporating more electronics and synths. Both of these albums though are pretty stellar and translate to a whole other space live, especially the songs off of Loud Like Love.

Placebo is a band that deserves their due. They are one of the few bands to truly understand what it is to evolve and pursue their goals without compromising their artistic integrity. There are so many bands that owe Placebo a huge debt of gratitude, which I hope they get. They are masters at their craft and like a fine wine, only gotten better with age.

 

Placebo- Meds:

 

Placebo Live 2003:

 

Placebo Live 2013:

 

Placebo Unplugged:

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Album Rank: Placebo

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From the first time I heard the song Every You Every Me in 1997, I became a fan of Placebo. Their second album Without You I’m Nothing, would be a part of my constant playlist, especially on melancholia days. Which brings me to to today, when I woke up with the song “Meds” in my head, so naturally that got me thinking I should do an album rank of Placebo.

Black Market Music:

Placebo:


Battle For The Sun:


Loud Like Love:

Sleeping With Ghosts:

 

Without You I’m Nothing:

 

Meds:

 

 

 

Lists: Singer/Guitarists

In no particular order:

1. James Hetfield- Metallica
2. Jerry Cantrell- Alice In Chains
3. Clint Lowery- Sevendust
4. Stephen Brodsky- Cave In
5. Ken Andrews- Failure
6. Scott Kelly- Neurosis
7. Eric Clapton
8. John Fogerty- Creedence Clearwater Revival
9. Dave Grohl- Foo Fighters
10. Neil Young
11. Chris Cornell- Soundgarden
12. Kurt Cobain- Nirvana
13. Brian Molko- Placebo
14. Josh Homme- Queens Of The Stone Age
15. Jimi Hendrix
16: Jim Ward- Sparta
17. Lou Reed
18. Billy Corgan- Smashing Pumpkins
19. Matt Talbott- Hum

Unsung Masterpieces: Placebo- Meds

There are bands that go through a sort of identity crisis in their careers, some use this as fuel to create something special and make what they come up with an influential and highly regarded piece of work. Placebo did that in 2006 when they released Meds. Their previous albums were great. but they started to feel very stagnant. Stepping away from their use of samplers, computers and vintage synthesizers and returning to actually playing again seemed to reinvigorate Placebo. Lyrically the balance of drug and alcohol imagery really showed part of their personal dysfunction and vulnerability. Songs like “Meds,” “Infra-Red,” and “Post Blue” showcase this pleasantly. There is also another theme that rings throughout the album, danger. “Because, I Want You” and “Blind” could be construed as love songs all the while creating a short story about drugs and love. Another stand out from the album was their cover of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill,”  which fits perfectly in the thematic structure that MEDS is. It is also a staple at their live shows.

Placebo has never been one to shy away from what they want to create and release. Brian Molko has a voice that is very distinct and believable. This album is one of the best to be released in the last 15 years and still hold up!

 

 

By: Brian Lacy