Placebo: Never Let Me Go

Placebo are back with an explosion of melancholy and broken dreams.

When Placebo first entered the music scene, they were a novelty with their glam outsider looks trying to leave their mark in a scene dominated by Brit-pop ala Oasis and heavy masculinity. Today, Placebo are just as ambiguous as they were in 1996, and in a time when social media dominates our lives, frontman Brian Molko refuses to even have an Instagram or Twitter, and the band’s social media accounts are usually run by bassist, Stefan Osdal (the running joke being that you can always tell when it’s Molko posting on social media cause he’s like your tech-impaired uncle who texts in CAPS).

The world is very different from when Placebo left it nine years ago with their album Loud Like Love. Even Placebo are very different from when they left us, they’re no longer a three-member band, but they’re down to two members, and at this late in their career, maybe both Molko and Osdal don’t feel like anyone else can truly capture the essence of Placebo quite like they do. Never Let Me Go is a very different album from Loud Like Love. Musically, it has touches of their debut album, reminding me of their early songs like Come Home, Hang On To Your IQ, or Swallow. It also reminds me a lot of their B-Side instrumentals like Hug Bubble or Oxygen Thief.

Beautiful James is classic Placebo both musically and lyrically speaking, and although it’s the easiest song to recall because of the infectious hook, there are many other songs on the album that capture more fraught emotions. Forever Chemicals beautifully captures the uneasiness we’ve all been feeling these past few years. Musically the sounds are distorted and lyrically we have a Molko who’s been stuck in his own head for too long that it verges on the unhealthy.

The Prodigal begins with an enchanting harmony of strings, luring us into hopeful territory until the lyrics quickly remind us of our own mortality and the sadness of learning lessons towards the end, but with the hope of there being a light at the end of the tunnel. Went Missing is presented in spoken verse that almost feels like an intimate confessional of why someone would deliberately remove themselves from society, too disillusioned with it that the protagonist finds himself simply running away.

The majority of the album seeps with a yearning for lost youth but yet, has the wisdom to know that trying to live as you did in your youth probably wouldn’t have allowed you to still be alive. Although both musically and lyrically, Molko isn’t certain if being alive right now during these dire times is actually anything he bargained for, especially in songs like This Is What You Wanted, where he realises that everything he wanted didn’t make him happy, but rather left him feeling frustrated and empty.

Placebo are back, and like the rest of us, have grown disenchanted with modern society, and yet…there’s a twinkle of hope, and that’s what we can all hold on to, to keep on dreaming.

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Without You I’m Nothing: Celebrating 21 Years of Placebo

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The year was 1998 and as usual for that time, I was watching music videos on TV. Not on MTV cause only if you were living in Northern Italy could you get that channel, but rather it was an indie music channel that heavily focused on rock. In between moments of boredom and trying to figure out complex math problems, I looked up and noticed him. The person in question was Brian Molko. There was something strangely enigmatic and enchanting about his nasal voice and sparkling charcoaled eyes that made it impossible for me to look away. And starting into the deep abyss of his blue gaze, I knew that nothing would ever be the same for me.

For the past 21 years, Placebo’s music has been the soundtrack to my life. There’s an inexplicable bond between myself and those songs that now they belong more to me than they ever did to the band.

I recall early winter mornings where the dreariness of January had hit is peak and I’d pop in Pure Morning to wake myself up. Those months where I continued to cut my own hair, each time shorter than the last and burying myself in a grey cashmere sweater, just hoping that something would melt the chill that nestled inside of me.

I recall heady summer days where I shared my passion with my cousin Melody. Of course, someone who had suicidal tendencies would be drawn to My Sweet Prince, a song that depicts a suicide over a lost love. We were young and fearless, blasting the stereo with Molko’s dark lyrics as we applied lipstick in Crimson Sin. We were 18 and ready to take the world by a storm with pearls and posh seduction.

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I remember a time in Paris when dressed in a red flowing gown I danced to Twenty Years. When my soulmate looked into my eyes and held me like he was never going to let me go. That I wouldn’t be slipping out of his hands once dawn arrived. That we weren’t planning on saying goodbye. Pretending that everything was perfect. But perfect only existed in our optimistic dreams and was never based on our reality.

Then there was the time when, listening to Bosco on repeat, sitting in the passenger seat and looking out into the city with tears in my eyes because I wanted so desperately to hold onto someone that was clearly slipping away from me. My friend Lexy sighing from the driver’s seat, telling me to move on, that if I could just do that, then maybe I could be maybe. But, just as unrelenting and soaked in sorrow as that song was, I was unable to move on or let go. Until two years later. Because something we’d rather clutch love’s skeleton than to admit that it is dead and gone.

I’ve been listening to Placebo for so long that I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t listening to their music. And today, since it is Brian Molko’s birthday (he turns 47) it seemed the most fitting for me to dedicate my blog post to him.

Happy Birthday, Brian and thank you for the music and the memories. I’ll forever be shouting into the void, Soulmates never die.

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Poetry: Ashtray Heart

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I took a shortcut through blood to get back to you.

I knew that your gaping wounds were still fairly new

For you to be able to finally let it all go.

You need this injection to get through this night.

I really hope now that you adore me as much as your dragon

Because after three years of battling against it

I have nothing to show but pure frigid waters that hang like

Lonely icicles from my eyes.

But when you’ve been smoking for too long

And Memnoch is walking in your shoes,

The only thing that surrounds you is a musky-drugged fog.

While the stage that we’re on becomes a broken ashtray

And, I the protagonist, a butted Marlboro.

It’s only a matter of trust,” you say.

But when your favorite lover is White Eve instead of me

I do not have much trust left in me.

You carve my name into your arm

Thinking that I should be impressed.

But your gesture does not scream your love,

It merely whispers your derangement.

I wish I could drag you across filed nails,

So you would become pristine.

But I can only kiss you with these bruised lips,

Hoping that you will come around (for more).

Although you don’t seem to care

As you take another line from my breasts.

Your ocean eyes wander over space and time

Snatching the stoned affection you can find.

Please don’t die,” I beg you.

I know of your secret lovers

That you keep hidden beneath black satin covers.

They’re going to blow your mind one of these days

Just as they did with all the others.

If only I could bring it all back to you

But there’s nothing I can do

Because you’re Poe without a muse,

Who merely craves for silver rockets

And playing Russian roulette with five bullets.

The smoke rises up and around your solar plexus

All I am for you is a Plastic Venus,

Ideal for viewing but not for loving.

You bestow your worship to the Green Goddess instead

Because she can let you see Heaven and Hell in your bed.

But remember that I now hold the power

Because I’ve raped all your lovers.

You’ll need to beg me before I’ll shoot you up.

I know how to fight back with an empty gun loaded with placebos.

By: Azzurra Nox