Bitter Pill I Take Today

Damn. Damn, damn, damn. Writing a review is hard. I write to escape reality, so this is also counterintuitive. I’m not completely giving up, but I’m not writing the long, eloquent thing I had in mind when I started jotting down thoughts on oversized sticky notes Monday afternoon.

“You are a cheap and nasty fake and I am the bones you couldn’t break.”

I had a full page finished before I deleted the file in frustration. It was good, but it was also heading towards the length of novel instead of article. Excuse me, I think I’ll stick to writing fiction. It’s my escape, my tension release, my middle finger to the world.

Music does that for me too. It puts me in the mood I need to be for certain characters or certain stories. Other music can have the same effect on me to the outside world. Placebo is my mood-altering drug of choice. Sounds weird, I know, but have you ever heard of a placebo effect? No, it’s not what the band’s name means, but it still works for my warped little world.

Placebo’s newest album was released Monday. I preordered Battle for the Sun and, because I did, I was able to download the album first thing Monday morning. I was late for work trying to figure out how to get MP3 files to show up in my iTunes library. It’s ok, crisis averted, I managed to get the entire album onto the iPod and also not forget my earbuds. Not bad for a Monday, even if I do say so myself.

Despite my kneejerk reactions to the two previews – “Battle for the Sun” and “For What It’s Worth” – I did enjoy the album. “Battle for the Sun” with its slow, stuttering start gets better, but it is not representative of the album as a whole. I still stand by my accusation of “too mainstream” on “For What It’s Worth”, but it is catchy and I find my self singing along.

Now on to the rest of the album…

Overall, the second half of the album is way better than the first half. Yes, “way better”. See, there is a reason I don’t write reviews. I can come up with much better words when I’m writing mansmut vampires, but those are NSFW words, so I’ll not digress – Not just yet anyway.

My favorite tracks are “Julien” and “The Never-Ending Why”. They’re very different songs, both from each other and as unique recordings showing the versatility of Placebo. The album as a whole continues to do that (the versatility thing). For example, adding to and enhancing Placebo’s core sound with extra instruments like the piano and the electric violin. I think I might have heard a trombone, or other horn-like instrument along the way as well.

Placebo fans understand that no two albums are the same. Each is a stepping stone in the life of an artist. If everything mimicked what came before it, we would’ve grown tired of this band by now. This is no Meds. It is no Black Market. It is the evolution of Brian and Stefan with the influence of their new drummer, Steve. Every band must grow to survive or else they become stale and boring. How many one-hit wonder cassettes did I collect in my hair band phase? They all sounded (and looked) the same. Boring.

Placebo is anything but boring. I’ve heard mixed reviews from other fans from “genius” to “disappointing”. It’s not my favorite Placebo album, but it is one that has already been deposited into a couple of different playlist rotations. I’m happy with it and I’d recommend it to someone who has yet to taste the bittersweet flavor of Placebo.

“Try to kill this song, ‘Cause the melody’s all wrong.”

Thanks for placating me by reading this brief foray into non-fiction. I’ll return to writing smut now.


PS Lyrics are from “Battle for the Sun” and “Breathe Underwater”.

PSS: the chanting in “Ashtray Heart” is “cenicero”. It means “ashtray” in Spanish. There, it makes sense now, doesn’t it?


One response to “Bitter Pill I Take Today

  • Shadows

    I still haven't bought it. I don't know if I want to. I've been eying Marilyn Manson's new one instead…decisions. Damn this economy. I like your review. You did just fine.

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