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Released in 2000, Black Market Music is Placebo's third LP and is a considerably darker listen than their second album. The title of the album hints at what is on offer here - seedy tales, backstreet deals, broken hearts and of course Brian Molko's song writing forte, drug abuse.
The problems with Black Market Music are immediately noticeable. No amount of studio trickery can do away with the simple fact that if your song writing isn't up to scratch, people are going to notice. The songs on BMM aren't bad by any means, but Molko has certainly hit a wall in terms of both developing his song writing and pushing Placebo out of their comfort zone. On their previous album the band had managed to arrange the compositions in such a way that they were still a challenging listen but without sacrificing any of their melodic integrity. In comparison the tracks on this album often feel unwelcoming and somewhat eager to push you away.
Taste in Men reached number 16 in the singles chart. It begins with a looped bass riff and is followed by successive squalls of feedback and for a moment it would appear that Placebo dare to be exciting again. However this is little more than a pipe dream as Taste in Men quickly becomes their worst opening song to date. Molko's nasal vocals annoy as he repeats the lyrics, "Come back to me a while, change your style again, come back to me a while, change your taste in men". With regards to the lyrics, I don't know if Taste in Men was an attempt to be shocking, but I can report that it does indeed end up that way, but for all the wrong reasons.
Other single, Special K, is an ode to the horse tranquilizer turned druggy favourite, Ketamine. The song has a real energy and Stefen Olsdal and Steve Hewitt provide some great backing, but there is no getting away from the fact that this is just another rocker that you've heard before.
The final two singles, Black-Eyed and Slave to the Wage, just about finish me off and have little to no redeeming features. The former is introduced by Molko playing a really mellow guitar line and is then built around a repetitive bass section; stereotypical drum rolls included. Slave to the Wage is a little better, but only marginally so. The song is just horribly produced and it makes my ears shy away as everything just sounds so compacted and unnatural. The saving attribute is that I actually don't mind the theme of rallying against the daily 9 to 5 that we all have to endure. Somehow it managed to reach number 19 in the singles chart.
Needless to say, I'm not much of a fan of the singles released from this album.
After all this negativity I shall now rain down upon you the highlights of the album, because despite what I may have led you to believe, there are interesting moments on this LP.
The songs which work the best are the ones which at least attempt to try something new, a good example being Spite & Malice.
Now, rock and rap hybrids were nothing new in the nu-metal era that was the turn of the millennium, but Brian Molko is still a decent song writer and Jason Warfield is an above par rapper. Put them together and I couldn't think of two artists better suited. For the first time on the album the lyrics are excellent and Molko's beautiful vocals echo Warfield's rapping in the closing moments.
Passive Aggressive is gorgeously produced and has one of the band's most enchanting introductions; Molko's restrained vocals allowing for a more sensitive tone to cascade through the song's lush guitar work.
Despite all this good news I feel that Commercial for Levi is a joke too far. The lyrics make me cringe as Molko laments, "you're the one whose always choking Trojan, you're the one whose shower is always golden", with the glee of a child in a sweet shop. Subtlety isn't Molko's strong point and that is no more noticeable than here.
The last song of the set, Peeping Tom, is the best track on the album. The muddy guitar work mimics the tender piano keys and for perhaps the first time on the album Molko cuts the crap and forges the band's best ballad yet. Placebo have put a great deal of effort into making you feel for their peeping Tom character and everything reaches an emotional peak when Molko remarks with a sense of bliss, "...You're still the one who makes me feel much taller than you are - I'm just a peeping Tom, on my own for far too long, problems with the booze, nothing left to lose..."
So while I simply cannot recommend Black Market Music over the two Placebo albums which preceded it, there are still moments to be enjoyed. It is by no means a bad album, but the band is far more capable than this LP leads you to believe.
Read more of my reviews at www.danielkempreviews.co.uk
Placebo are (at the time of this album's release),
Brian Molko - lead vocals, guitar, keyboards
Stefan Odsal - bass guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Steve Hewitt - drums
Further information on them can be found at
"Black Market Music" is Placebo's third album. It marked a change to a harder edgier sound than the previous collections, "Without You I am Nothing" and their self-titled debut album. Whilst this album often hits the mark it is let down in places by some weak tracks.
This album has some outstanding tracks on it. I would say that the highlights are the rockier, guitar driven tracks.
The album opener "Taste in Men" was a surprising choice for the lead single. It is fairly middle of the road by Placebo's standards. I felt that there were braver and better choices on the album. Its not that it's a bad track but there isn't much in it that you feel like you haven't heard before. Sadly this is also the case with the second song "Days Before you Came".
That is certainly an accusation which cannot be levelled at "Spite & Malace" which features hip-hop artist Justine Warfield. It is like nothing I have ever heard from Placebo before (or since) and I find the contrast between Warfield's rapping and Placebo's normal sound actually works quite effectively. However, this is one track which came in for a lot of criticism from long standing fans.
The best track is "Slave to the Wage" despite the inference that it is the cause of the rut most of us are stuck in, the track is actually quite upbeat. In some ways it's imploring you to leave the daily grind, "Run away from all your boredom, run away from all your whoredom and wave your worries, and cares goodbye". Further lyrics make reference to the rat race and getting away from it all. A polished track which tends to go down well with people who are unfamiliar with it and indeed with Placebo in general.
The lyrics throughout are probably aimed at the adolescent market, with various sexual references and multiple reference to drugs. I suspect this puts a lot of people off Placebo which you can easily see being the case. Probably one of the worst culprits for this is "Commercial for Levi". Molko explains that this was a song which he used as a wake up call to someone on the road to destruction, but it comes over as quite a lazy track. It's one of the poorer on the album, thankfully it's also the shortest. Another disappointment is "Blue American", it just plods along and doesn't really go anywhere.
"Special K" was a track which courted some controversy due to its reference to the drug Ketamin and lyrics like "swallows half my stash", "dope demand" and "falling down" do little to help on that front. It's a pity it got so much bad publicity (Molko's response was dubiously that it was a metaphor for love), as it's in the top four tracks on this collection in my opinion.
"Passive Aggressive" is probably the most diverse track on the album. It's a slow burner which builds up to a mid paced chorus. It's a track which really delivers and is one that grows through time.
The only real ballad on the album is "Narcoleptic" and it works well. Situated near the album it signifies the album slowing to an end. It provides a contrast to most of the rest of the album and by doing so gives a bit of balance to what is a fairly fast paced record.
The other standout tracks I would have are "Haemoglobin" and "Black-Eyed". Again, two guitar driven tracks which really are outstanding tracks, especially when played live.
The version I have has a bonus track "Black Market Blood" which appears after a considerable gap at the end of "Peeping Tom". I am not sure why they left this off the official tracklisting as it is quite a strong finish to the album and gives a bit more meaning to the album title.
Placebo are a bit of an easy target when it comes to criticism. Molko's vocals can be described as whiney, the lyrics can be questioned and some people think there music is a bit repetitive. However, I think that if you give them a chance then there is plenty on this album to keep you coming back. Granted it won't be for all tastes (what music is?) but I think this is a record which is a worthy purchase.
Confusion was always going to be the key to the band Placebo's success. With their lead singer in the earlier days seemingly loving the idea of throwing on a frock and too much make up to irritate some of the less open minded people on the planet, such as Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst (bearing in mind the front man in question was indeed a bloke) by the groups third album, it would seem as if a change was needed.
Musically, the first two albums were quite different; the self titled debut was punky, angry and slightly arrogant with a good dose of vulnerability to even it all out. Yet, the follow up of 'Without You I'm Nothing' took the last trait to the extremes; the album lost a lot of its musical angst and concentrated much more on the story of the lyrics, mainly driven by Placebo's realisation that love is as cruel as they'd always expected it to be from the first time they wrote an album and the coming down period after their drug fuelled rages was another difficult element to contend with.
Following nine months in the studio, 'Black Market Music' was released in the October of 2000 with the promise that it would be a lot less about lead singer Brian Molko's own personal shortcomings and more about telling a story through an array of characters, a notion that was to certainly be expanded on from 1998's album. Not being aware of the band back when it was first release, in all of my innocent glory, it wasn't until a couple of years ago when I received this album.
It has to be said that I wasn't instantly captivated by 'Black Market Music'; I'd adored 'Sleeping With Ghosts' - the follow up record to this one - and thought that the dynamic of 'Placebo' was a good starting place. 'Without You I'm Nothing' was an album which I couldn't stop listening to because of the intricate marvelling between the emotions of every track. But this one just didn't suit me.
Why? I don't really know. It was a big change from anything the group had done in their earlier days but on reflection now, it is very much the middle album between their initial, subtly aggressive sound against the less bitter expression of the 2003 release, 'Sleeping With Ghosts'. 'Black Market Music', in itself, tries hard on a number of occasions to cross genre itself; instead of being strictly an alternative record, it tries its hand at dance and hip hop orientated sounds, perhaps not intentionally and those are probably not the right names for it.
But by the looping of different samples, it creates a very different vibe than many fans were perhaps expecting with each of the tracks perhaps evoking these loops and their original sound in many different ways.
Track 1: Taste In Men (4.15 minutes)
Being the first release from Black Market Music, 'Taste In Men' is the epitome of the different yet utterly confusing direction that the band were set to take. Managing to get to number 16 in the UK singles chart, from the synthesiser introduction, there was a distinct electric feel to the track which is present throughout the rest of the album. Here, it is rather a more dominant, pulsating element and the tones of the guitar that have usually driven the biggest majority of Placebo's work are a lot subtler. The drums - provided by former member Steve Hewitt - kick in before the guitar and keep at a solid pace throughout the song, making 'Taste In Men' a funkier opener than the previous albums first offerings.
Marks out of 10: 9 - the story of a bizarre love triangle, which is played out particularly well in the video, is excellent; on the first listen, it may seem a bit too repetitive but it really allows you to focus on the different electronic textures found within the track. I love it and its one of the Placebo tracks that you can actually dance to...as bassist Stefan Olsdal proves very well on stage with his self confessed 'Gay Dancing'*.
Track 2: Days Before You Came (2.33 minutes)
Reverting back to the good ole guitar and their former more aggressive sound, 'Days Before You Came' still maintains an addictive drum beat but the urgency of the guitar is at its peak here. After a fairly subdued, middle pace track like 'Taste In Men', this one very much has a mean streak running through it, and sounds remarkably like something Brian would be guilty of in his autobiographical phase of song writing; indulging and putting his own, selfish desires above anything a love could give, at least days before they arrived to pick up the pieces.
Marks out of 10: 9 - one of the things that really sticks out about this track is although the tune should be taking centre stage, the lyrics do an excellent job of fighting back against it so that this one comes across as memorable on more than one level, both lyrically and musically, something which certain tracks by Placebo have failed to do.
Track 3: Special K (3.52 minutes)
Not referring to the cereal here but the drug ketamine, the intro is a bit too similar to 'Days Before You Came' as the guitars sneak in early with their slightly irritated state. This seems to be a lot quicker at the chorus but it actually keeps on the same level throughout. It is mainly that way because of how the music breaks into an almost acoustic guitar sound at various points throughout. Keeping to a very similar line lyrically to others, in addiction whether it's through guilty pleasures of relationships, 'Special K' fizzles out the same way the former track does, which is a bit of a disappointment.
Marks out of 10: 8 - as a single itself, I think that it's a stronger contender in some ways, particularly musically, but it was never going to reach anywhere near the same heights as 'Taste In Men' did in the charts because of the countless drug references. Somehow, me thinks some of this MUST be autobiographical, at least somewhere down the line; if you've ever listened of read any interviews with Brian, you'll know how many different drugs he claimed to have dabbled in...
Track 4: Spite & Malice (3.37 minutes)
The drums break us into the track once again, although they sound very tinny as if they are trying to be hushed. However, then a voice chimes in and it isn't Brian's, and that cackle, it can only be one person - Justin Warfield! Ok, I have no idea who the heck this guy is either. One thing I do know is that he's not exactly Eminem when it comes to being a rapper. Anyway, highlighting the positives, he was brought in off the streets to add a different dynamic to the song; there was apparently something missing from this track and 'Spite & Malice' only narrowly made the cut on the album. Written about the May Day Massacres, I did like the way in which the lyrics used card references to put across their point of rioting. Some may think it sounds a bit silly but it does actually create quite a destructive ambiance, combined with the tune itself.
Marks out of 10: 9 - the hip hop elements in here away from the rapping makes the track seem spontaneous and more intriguing than it may have done without the serious sessions of cross looping. A song that could be very much taken or left by many fans but I think it's creative and certainly a good listen if ever there was one on this album.
Track 5: Passive Aggressive (5.24 minutes)
In the first of a few more downcast moments on the album, track five could have been plucked straight off 'Without You I'm Nothing'. Alas, actually, there is a degree of intelligence by Placebo in recognising the album's overall appeal of being a slightly electronic, guitar seminar of a beast is needed in almost all of the tracks and it would be foolish to drop the proverbial ball as early on as 'Passive Aggressive'. It flutters between a low guitar strum similar to that of 'Bionic', a first album number, to a fit of rock rage that never quite fractures the sound barrier to upkeep this rank of doubt and melancholy.
Marks out of 10: 9 - it is very much a case of marmite with this one; you'll love it or hate it. I'm in the first camp and think that it's a killer track because of the fact that it lasts a lot longer than anything on here; it allows the listener to dwell on the impact of the words and to almost enjoy the sadness evoked in them.
Track 6: Black-Eyed (3.48 minutes)
Although it sounds different from the other intros of each track on this album, the band certainly enjoy kicking things off with guitars. It's natural, with them being a rock band and stuff but if you really want to pick it apart, than it can be a little tedious. 'Black-Eyed' - as used on the soundtrack for German film Engle & Joe - is basically about a child whose family were torn apart through the parents no longer wanting to be together. Brian insists that it is not about his childhood, in spite of the fact that his American Father and Scottish Mother divorced when he was very young. How odd it is that there is a song about the subject?
Marks out of 10: 8 - it's even odder that there are references to the lead singers said promiscuity and self absorbed tendencies. Away from that, 'Black-Eyed' isn't that startling; other bands will write stuff very similar but Placebo's little quirks of making the lyrics incomplete at the bridge before the first chorus makes it a little bit special, even if it is quite a generic sound overall.
Track 7: Blue America (3.31 minutes)
The initial guitar hook plays itself lowly and works well in establishing the more sinister tone of the song in general. 'Blue America' has to have some bearing of personal experiences; no one can write about their Mum in a song and not expect it to mean something! The character in this story is discussing their need for assistance by referring to self help books and novels, including 'Uncle Tom's Cabin', which if you know the subject of the book, allows a slant that is thoroughly expressed in a thorough disliking of culture and aspects of the past. No speed was ever picked up during this one, which comes as a bit of a shock after many that aren't as delicate musically.
Marks out of 10: 7 - referred to as 'a bag of shit' by one of my Placebo hating buddies, she is probably right. However, it's with that gesture that the characters voice of being pretentious whilst wallowing in self doubt needs to be established in an almost comforting way. If you don't realise it, you'll hate this one and even if you can bear 'Blue America', it is still pretty dreary and uncharismatic.
Track 8: Slave To The Wage (4.06 minutes)
Lifting up a bit - at least musically - 'Slave To The Wage' got Placebo to a respectable number 19 in the UK charts upon its release. This is one of the songs where I know it is based around the bands own thoughts about the dreaded 'nine to five' jobs, particularly after watching their 'Care In The Community' documentary in which Brian claims to never having a proper job other than shredding paper in an office, which is shown in the music video. Using similar breakdown features from 'Passive Aggressive' whilst keeping a more electronic base to it, this one was recorded on the morning of the death of music publicist Scott Piering, who lost his battle to Cancer in January 2000. This whole album is dedicated to his memory and this track seems ironic but oddly fitting in light of those circumstances.
Marks out of 10: 7 - it's never been one of my favourite tracks; to me it's a bit boring and doesn't say anything that perhaps their other tracks don't endorse but in a different kind of way. A pleasant listen but certainly not one of the greatest songs on 'Black Market Music'.
Track 9: Commercial For Levi (2.20 minutes)
Having a much mellower but lazier sound than the rest of the album, 'Commercial For Levi' is purely directed at the lead singer himself; Levi - the groups technician - saved Brian once, when he was yet again horrendously drunk, from walking out in front of a car! I bet you were thinking that Placebo were going to sing the praises of the jeans? I did wonder before a first listen but that wasn't to be. Shame. This track is almost what I would classify as a lullaby; the music doesn't get that heavy - and even introduces a few naff sounding triangle tingles - but the lyrics are explicit in discussing the singer's drug habits and immature, cocky approach to life. Ouch!
Marks out of 10: 7 - not being a particularly challenging track to listen to, this one suffers as a result of it. If it is meant to be a stern message, it plays itself down to such a degree where you have to believe that they are laughing at the notion of death by stupidity in the face. An average track and again nothing too groundbreaking.
Track 10: Haemoglobin (3.46 minutes)
Starting off in a bubbly but pulse like way in which builds into distorted vocals and revisiting the bursting of guitars and drums, 'Haemoglobin' was originally going to be the title of the album until it was decided that Americans would be unable to say it correctly and pronounce it as 'homoglobin'! Written about the slave trade, and the struggling of finding a place in the world, it's a rightfully angry track and stays true to what Placebo consider being one of their main premises: standing up against Racism. It really seeks to be different to anything else they have written before, at least lyrically, whilst still being in keeping to some of the synthesiser trends on the album. For the most part, it succeeds and I think that the mixture of underplayed and over the top vocals on this tracks works really well.
Marks out of 10: 8.5 - as it never truly concludes, the song leaves its mark on the album in quite a substantial way. It's one of the most atmospheric and really generates an intense, confused but unfathomable beat that makes it alluring to listen to again. However, it could have been amplified somewhat if they'd been less sparing with the electronics in certain areas and kicked up the anger a notch.
Track 11: Narcoleptic (4.22 minutes)
Slowing the pace right down to a very lazy level, the title to this song is fitting for the slovenly mood of 'Narcoleptic'. It is certainly the most forgettable of all the tracks on 'Black Market Music'; too repetitive and trying too hard to create the mood of its title. It's very much the dirge; it never goes anywhere and keeps plodding on for much longer than it should have done. That was the effect that the band were trying to create but it's just a bit indulgent and not at all interesting to listen to.
Marks out of 10: 5 - filler of the most boring kind. The vocals didn't have any passion to them, and there were certainly key lyrics within the song that should have had a different vibe about them. For example, when talking about the possibility of dying, 'you'd better keep it in check or you'll end up a wreck and you'll never wake up', you'd expect a sterner tone, as anticipated on 'Commercial For Levi'. A passable listen yet one I often skip and certainly not an essential listen; it leaves absolutely no mark on the album other than being branded as the 'slow, monotonous song'.
Track 12: Peeping Tom (5.12 minutes)
Brining in a piano for their final track on the album, Placebo have kept what I consider to be one of the best tracks till last. 'Peeping Tom' as the name suggests is about voyeurism but instead of looking at it as a sometimes disgusting act, it twists it round and instead depicts a drunken, lonely anti hero that works well against the backdrop of the sullen piano whilst the other instruments trying a make it seem a little more optimistic. Although you could listen to it and say that the lyrics are a bit too repetitive, the way they are built up into the final fade out works better than 'Narcoleptic' could ever hope to.
Marks out of 10: 9.5 - this song has a misunderstood kind of charm to it. Brian's vocals work incredible well; he isn't naturally a powerful singer, instead having a slightly whiney quality to his voice, but the way he wavers on this one is magical. It tells the story exceptionally well, more so than any other songs on this album.
*Bonus Track* Black Market Blood
If you wait for about eight or so minutes after 'Peeping Tom' has ended, you'll be graced with a hidden track. Placebo have a habit of doing this on their first three offerings, which is quite irritating if you don't know the songs are there. 'Black Market Blood' reminds me of someone I know so it always makes me smirk but it might be because it reminds me a bit of me too. It's essentially a song about a girl who is too much of a cynic at heart and is driving herself mad over it. Anyway, with a string orchestra in the background, it's one of the most adventurous tracks that the band have ever done and has an amazing ambience to it that fits in well against the lyrics and the fluttering of instruments, many of which the band have never used before
Marks out of 10: 9.5 - this one should have replaced 'Narcoleptic' on the main portion of the CD; mystical with a great underlying vibe to it, 'Black Market Blood' is unusually haunting, very different to anything the band have ever attempted before but a forgotten masterpiece that is every bit enthralling after several listens.
ARTWORK AND PRESENTATION
Including lyrics and some rather odd imagery, the band themselves have said that they never liked the artwork on this album. It's quite clear as to why their sentiments are geared that way. The bulk of the background artwork is of machinery which, even metaphorically, doesn't fit in with any of the songs on this album, other than the notion of creating characters. The band have said in the past how they also aspire not to grace their own album covers in the first place, at the expense of avoiding appearing 'boy bandish' but you'll never see this albums cover nominated for any artistic awards as it's just a bit dull and lifeless.
The thing that stands out to me about 'Black Market Music' is the fact that it is a very different album to anything the band has ever attempted before. Although it is first and foremost a rock album, using the guitars and drums to the hilt, it also starts the process of evolution within the band in their chipping in of different textures and sounds to create something that has influences from the bands own musical tastes. This is particularly noticeable with the drummers liking of some forms of hip hop, which is certainly at its most noticeable in 'Spite & Malice'.
The boring moments of the album, and there are only a couple, do stop 'Black Market Music' from being Placebos most dominating album to date; you'll listen to it, like it, listen to it again and then uncover it a few months down the line when you have one of the truly great tracks like the aforementioned and 'Passive Aggressive' in your head.
The fact that the album took nine months to record is a bit worrying when you consider numbers such as 'Commercial For Levi' and 'Narcoleptic' that have such obvious flaws in the way in which their overall meanings are delivered. None the less, you can ignore these faults when considering 'Peeping Tom' and 'Black Market Blood'; if there was ever a musical based upon the bands work which ok is highly unlikely, both tracks you can imagine having a very film noir element to them; dark, mysterious and psychologically challenging. They are certainly two of Molko's best attempts at song writing as for once in his life, Brian steps outside of the box and examine things in tremendous detail, away from his own drug and relationship nightmares.
'Black Market Music' is one to own if you like cross genre rock or are indeed a solid Placebo fan. If not, you could quite happily love it or find it too over the top yet narcotic in places.
Length: 45.44 minutes
Warning: Comes with a parent advisory sticker - only really a noticeable feature in 'Spite And Malice'.
Best buy: £5.45 at dvd.co.uk - free UK delivery.
*To watch Stefan in action, visit: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=jL58X_iOgMI
(Please Note: displayed on Ciao by myself, MizzMolko - all my own work!)
Placebos latest offering Black Market Music is the London Bands best yet. 1. Taste In Men - The opening track 'Taste In Men' is like a long slow burning track. The track is like one long verse, with no bridge or chorus and very dark and broody track, and though it was released, not one of my favourite tracks on this album. Star Rating: *** 2. Days Before You Came - Days Before You came is a much shorter, 2 and a half minute song. Opened by a short quick guitar riff, which continues through the song. In many ways this song reminds me of the song layout of Taste In Men, with proper chorus, or 'off-shoot' if you like. Just Brain Molko singing the same lyrics over through the song, though much quicker than Taste In Men. Star Rating: *** 3. Special K - Here is the album highlight - a five star song if ever I heard one. 2 superb verses, moving onto the catchiest bridge/ 1st chorus I've ever heard: 'No hesitation no delay, you come on just like Special K' Which a couple of seconds pause and then the proper chorus, which is just as catchy: 'Gravity, no escaping gravity...' Brilliant, catchy, speedy song - contain everything I love about Placebo. Brilliant, their best to date, up their with Every Me and Every You and Nancy Boy. Star Rating: ***** 4. Spite and Malice - Placebo use a rapper or MC in this song and the beginning and in a solo later on it the song. Followed by a verse by Brian Molko, followed by the chorus which is rapped. Placebo combine the two for a very good finish - its almost like the verse is the build up of tension, and the chorus, especially the last chorus which features Brian Molko and Justin Warfield (The Rapper), is like a realease, though the song is by no means dark. The different parts of the song - singing, chanting and rapping all combine brilliantly to give a great finish to the song. Star Rating: *** 5. Passive
Aggressive - Not at all living up to its name, this is one of the softer moments on the album, soft verse to harder chorus - soft verse to harder chorus. One of the longer songs on the album. Star Rating: *** 6. Black Eyed - Another highlight on this album. Placebo use a verse building up to the chorus. Only on the last choruses does Brain call 'Black Eyed' repeatedly. After listening to Special K, skip to this one. From what was just an accoustic tune at the beginning the song end with Brain calling Black Eyed, over noise, that though not hard or loud, is still powerful and full. Star Rating: **** 7. Blue American - 'I wrote this poem just for...' The first two verses begin with this line. After each verse there is its own mini chorus relating to the verse. Small, soft and depressed song. Star Rating: *** 8. Slave To The Wage - Straight off the back of the depressed slow 'Blue American' comes the up-beat, catchy Slave To The Wage. Catchy, cool, great song. Verse followed by bridge followed by Chorus. Simple. Star Rating: **** 9. Commercial For Levi - This is also one of my favourite songs on the album. Placebo verse and then the catchy part of the song which is the bridge: 'I understand the facination...Ive even been there once or twice (or more)...' Followed by a chorus which is quite strange for such a light and airy song 'But if you dont change your situation, you'll die, you'll die, don't die' don't die, please dont die...' Quite short catchy, light an airy but the lyrics display a darker side to this seemingly happy song, about drinks, coke and exstacy (you're gonna blow your mind). Star Rating: **** 10. Haemoglobin - Once again Placebo shift moods from one end of the spectrum to another - from a light airy song to a dark, strong powerful song 'Haemoglobin'. Like a faster versi
on of Taste In Men with a chorus slotted in between verses. Star Rating: *** 11. Narcoleptic - And....now after that dark song here is a slow burner. Soft drum beat, simple guitar tune used everynow and then. Soft, slow. Star Rating: ** 12. Peeping Tom - Contain a hidden track at the end, which is probably where the name Black Market Music came from (She runs on Black Market Blood). This is the sort of song you forget but it completes the album from its dark broody beginning 'Taste in Men' to this more positively sounding song (I don't know about the lyrics though). Builds into a strong, long chorus. Star Rating: ** This is Placebos best album to date featuring songs like Special K, Slave To The Wage, Black Eyed and Commercial For Levi this was going to beat all other offerings. Brains voice is that distinctive one, that always allows you to know its placebo when you hear them on the radio, and it really does complete the band. A very good album worth the £12.99 you'll have to spend on it. Lets hope the band out do themselves again next time.... Thanks!
Most of the songs on the album take forward Placebo's sound at least a little. Black-eyed is probably the most innovative; they seem to be going through a bit of a flirtation with dance music generally, and it's done very well in Little Mo, a b-side on the Special K single which hopefully indicates that they're working on perfecting their new, 'dancier' sound for the next album. Their slower songs generally are improving too, as Commercial for Levi and Slave to the Wage indicate, although none of their album stuff has managed to match the simple beauty of b-sides like Dark Globe and Holocaust. As for the louder uptempo songs, there's nothing in here to rival Brick Shithouse, which basically perfected the Bruise Prisitine formula - Special K's an excellent song in its own right but not as energetic. Spite and Malice doesn't rock like 1000 Brick Shithouses - more like half of one - but it's still good to see they're trying out new sounds (although this rap-rock thing has been around since at least Rage Against the Machine's 1993 debut album). Weak points are Passive Aggressive, which is basically Lady of the Flowers with different words, and Taste in Men. All the same, the album is still excellent and definitely worth your money. It's just not the OK Computer we were hoping for, and hence the 4 stars rather than 5 - Placebo definitely have the talent to do better than this. Hopefully they'll take a bit more time with the next one, perfect all of their varied song types, get the balance just right between the mellow stuff and the loud stuff, and deliver an absolute blinder of an album which blows us all away and leaves the sceptics reeling. And a CD collection of b-sides would be nice to listen to while we wait :)
...in being a very black, dark album musically, especially lyric-wise. This is Placebo's third album again written entirely by the threesome that is Placebo: Brian Molko, Stefan Olsdal and Steve Hewitt. This appears to be something of a "coming of age" album seeing them more mature and more intense than their previous albums but just as good and well-crafted as their songs always are. Very open lyrically about Molko's gay/bi-sexual lifestyle and past with his trademark nasal but soulful vocals demonstrating a good range. His vocals may not be to everyone's taste, verging on whining sometimes, but they sure complement the music well. This album sports the now common "Parental Advisory" sticker as they are very free with their language and lyrical content. OK, let's take a look at some of the highlights and lowlights on this album: The opening track, "Taste in Men", was a single so may be instantly recognisable although it is by no means an outstanding track, some what mournful and mid-beat, about broken love. 'It's been this way since Christmas day....' "Spite and Malice" is one of the high points. Upbeat with rapping vocals and the sage advice: 'Don't go F**king in the streets'! "Black-eyed" about a broken home life is fast-paced with a typically mournful chorus. The best known track is probably the hit single "Slave to the Wage" - a great thumping number with a catchy tune featuring a sample from the band "testament" and urging us to reject the 9 to 5 rat race. We find a slower, more guitar based 'ode to mother' type song in "Blue American". "Commercial for Levi" is a lighter, again guitar-based, track very vocal with light backing and very sexual lyrics as a plea to beware of a life of drugs and loose-living - 'please don't die...' "Haemoglobin" is one of the low points for me. Rather unmemorable although with heavy backing the vocals are very background and indistinct and the track doesn't quite hit the spot like many of the others. Finally "Peeping Tom" gives us a keyboard orientated, slow, mournful song again. Very tuneful and poppy but slow and dark with it - 'been on my own for far too long'... Placebo are often billed as a metal/rock band but they have many trademark melancholic songs with light backing particularly on their last two albums and so people shouldn't be put off by the idea that they are going to be blasted out by rock music - there is a fine blend here.
Not being a huge Placebo fan myself, i only bought this album as it was in the sales for around a fiver. Nevertheless, it surprised me and shocked me that Placebo are making music this good. From the 'riff-alike' songs of Bruise Pristine and Nancy Boy from their earlier stuff, it's somewhat refreshing to hear this band trying new things. This album i think is a lot darker, seedier and in places colder than anything they've attempted previously. Doing a 'Radiohead'? possibly. From the first track, 'Taste In Men', we hear Placebo going off into weird, dark goth territory. With it's rolling bass and high pitched feedback squealing it doesn't really do much else- not the best of starts to an album. Still quite a good song though- heavy looped drums collide with Brian's unmistakeable wail, it's still fairly listenable. 'Days Before You Came'- now this is more like the Placebo we know and love! Heavy thrashy guitars, big, fast drums and Brian putting 110% into the vocal duties. Good stuff! It's one of the more upbeat songs on the album, and clocking in at about 2.20, its effectively short. A song of lost love methinks (a line goes- "didn't want you anyway"), but the most un- slushy love song ever! 'Special K' is allegedly about LSD. So there. As for the song, it's probably the best on the record. It starts with a beautiful acoustic riff, but after about 10 seconds, it transforms into a heavyweight rock sucka that blows your ears off. Hard guitars and faster drums on the chorus are matched with a slower drum (but not too slow) pattern and strummed guitar for the verses, which makes for an excellent song. Singalong chrous too! 'Spite And Malice' is also very good. Inlisting the talents of under-rated and very talented rapper (yes, i did say rapper) Justin Warfield, it skins along nicely. Thundering bass, catchy guitar hooks and a nice change to
Brian's usual voice, we get a fresh sound here. Not nu-metal (thank god), more like alt rock/ rap, if you can imagine that. 'Passive Aggressive' is one of the more downbeat, slow songs on this album (there are quite a few, believe me), but it's still a fairly good track. Lots of guitars, slow, lethargic drums pound away and Brian sounds unusually relaxed. It's hard work, but pays off when you listen to it all. Rewarding. 'Black Eyed' is a more upbeat rocker, with only 2 chords in the whole song, it uses dynamics very well. An uneven beat blasts away, Brian mutters something about broken homes, and a big squealy noise thunders in the foreground. Chorus! It rocks- big, heavy guitars still there, the drums kick in and the squealy noises actually compliment the song nicely. 'Blue American' is again, very slow. A strong Piano line eventually finds its way onto this song, Brian sounds very melancholic and the song is a heartbreaking tale of loves lost and found ("i wrote this novel just for you/ im so pretentious, yes its true") a very beautiful song, it highlights Placebo's growing sense of maturity, and sounds brilliant in the process. 'Slave To The Wage' was their second single of 2000, and what a single! heavy guitars, a Pavement sample and a catchy chorus all give Placebo a new signature tune, finally displacing the ghost of Nancy Boy. Weird, feedback-y noises squeal, regular guitars rock out and a steady drum pattern all mesh together nicely here, and bring Placebo's brand of alternative rock a new edge. 'Commercial For Levi' is one of my favouites from this record. It's a lively, chirpy 2 minute or so pop song, and features acoustics, pop song drums and even a xylophone! A bittersweet song, it has the pleading chorus of "you'll die, don't die, don't die, don't die". A gorgeous little love song if ever i heard one. Cute.
'Haemoglobin' is the key apparantly. Sounding like a Tool record when it starts, it quickly progresses into a heavy rock riffola monster. Distorted vocals, and repetetive strumming all help to make the song a Placebo Rawk song. It's dark, very catchy, but occasionaly irritating. Not the best on here, but good enough if you have the paitence. 'Narcoleptic' is yet another slow, downbeat song. To the un- initiated, it could be classed as dull or boring, but to the trained ear, it's just as good as the rest of the songs on this album. Again, hard work, but worth it in the end. 'Peeping Tom' is the album's final song (if you don't count the secret track), and finishes it nicely. Downbeat (i told you there were lots of those on this album didn't i?), it trickles along at a slow pace. Using the piano again, and some slow drumming, it helps Placebo shake off their tag of Rock wannabes, and elevates them to a higher, more critically acceptable level. In other words, they're not kids with guitars anymore. They're better now. All in all, this record is very good. If dark, cold and desolate in places. This is actually a good thing, because it shows Placebo can do this sort of music. Very mechanised, cold and dirty. It does exactly what it says on the tin (or cover).
Black Market eh? Well what can I say? This is a really great CD. It is produced by virgin so it can't be that bad. There are 12 songs on it including the ace song SPECIAL K! If you like this sort of gothic/punk/rockmusic this is the CD for you. I think it's great for parties or just chilling out. All the songs are kind of catchy but some of them are about homosexuals like change your taste in men for instance, but hey its a good song. I would most definately tell all my friends about this album, and force them to go and get it! So what are you waiting for? Go and get it... NOW!
“I was never faithful / And I was never one to trust.” Well I’m glad that’s cleared up then. Truthfully if you take Mr Molko’s lyrics as autobiographical then you do come to the conclusion he may not be the nicest man in the world. But then again if you want ‘nice and safe’ pop stars you end up with the likes of Steps, a world full of Steps clones: what a hideous thought (actually wait hasn’t that already happened?). Still whatever else you think of Placebo, the tag Steps clone is unlikely ever to be applied, although the thought of H in a dress, eyeliner and nail varnish amuses. Led by self confessed ‘sex dwarf’ Brian Molko, Placebo formed in 1994 and to date have got through, three albums, one drummer, uncountable numbers of eyeliners, lipsticks and of course several drug habits (*cough* sorry allegedly). ‘Black Market Music’ is their third LP to date, following the frenetic self-titled debut released in 1996 and the majestic, morose ‘Without You I’m Nothing’ in 1998. For the uninitiated the band sound like a strange fusion of spiky power pop and dramatic rock with a healthy measure of gothic pretension and punky attitude. Oh and a vocalist who sounds like he’s auditioning for Rush. Molko’s vocals are perhaps an acquired taste, high pitched, at times whiney at times snarling, he doesn’t have operatic range of say Mark from JJ72, although the hint of pre-pubescent around his singing remains. Despite this the vocals seem to fit the music perfectly and it makes a change to have dark gothically tinged music not being performed by a singer who thinks he’s the reincarnation of Dracula (see The Sisters of Mercy or Paradise Lost for further details). ‘Black Market Music’ was released in 2000, with two years having elapsed since their last album. The pre-release rumours it had to be said were not promising. They’ve
given up drugs (yeah right), they’re experimenting with different musical styles (Oh God they’re not about to do a Radiohead are they?), they’re co-producing (this way to the camp named delusions of grandeur). The lyrics will contain political comment (well that sounds like fun doesn’t it) and they’ve come for your children (oh wait been there and done that already). Thankfully whilst most of these rumours were in the end proved true the album wasn’t in fact the disappointment that threatened. However, opening with flyer single ‘Taste in Men’ the signs were initially not good. Yes it’s Placebo go dance and yes that is the bass line to ‘Block Rockin’ Beats’ you can hear in the background. Actually to be honest this isn’t really a dance track, unless you find easy to dance to robotic dirges, it merely appropriates some of the production tricks of the genre. Beginning with the aforementioned bass line, the drums soon kick in as does a typically Placebo wave of distorted guitar. Molko intones a fairly lazy lyric but it has to be said the vocal melody is nothing special at all. There’s also no discernible chorus, the closest we get is the line ‘Change your taste in men’ repeated ad infinitum. It’s perhaps unsurprising then that the track sunk without a trace on the radio. However, curiously on repeated listens the track becomes oddly addictive. Molko’s half spoken vocals that on a cursory listen revealed little, turn out to have a barbed hook buried deep within and end up stuck in your mind for hours. The music meanwhile is brilliantly atmospheric, the blasting distorted guitar solo in the middle and the heavy fuzzed up bass being particular highlights. Quite why Placebo released the track as a single however, is beyond me. It’s neither a reference point for the album as a whole nor much of a statement of intent. Perhaps they were just b
eing perverse. Things don’t really seem to improve with ‘Days Before You Came’. If ‘Taste in Men’ was oddly experimental then this is clearly Placebo by numbers. One of a couple of tracks that make a fruitless attempt to rewrite ’36 Degrees’, it resembles a blitzkrieg rendition of every up-tempo Placebo track ever recorded. Starting with a fuzzy circular blast of guitar the thundering drums quickly enter shortly accompanied by another bored sounding Molko vocal. Clocking in at a brief 2 mins 25 the track certainly doesn’t outstay it’s welcome and there is little badly wrong with it as such, the chorus is average and as far as thrashy indie goes this is reasonable stuff. However, when listening one can’t shake the feeling Placebo have already done this kind of thing before but better. Thankfully the quality control finally picks up with third single ‘Special K’. Much as I would love this track to have been about the great breakfast cereal, I am reliably informed that ‘Special K’ is also a type of drug (why am I not surprised?) which is commonly used for sedating horses. Banned from the radio for some slightly suspect lyrics, to which the band rather childishly retaliated by putting eight tracks on the single making it ineligible for chart placing, the song failed to secure the success you might have expected from such an accessible Placebo single. Surprisingly poppy, the song crashes into action propelled by a joint electric and acoustic riff, whilst Molko’s vocals finally convey some interest in his subject. Also notable are the curious, almost Motown doo-wop girl harmonies. After an excellent verse the song appears to head towards ’36 Degrees’ territory for the chorus before stopping dead and exploding into the real chorus which soars into a stomping good hook, perfect indie dance floor material. The lyric hold no great surprises, it
217;s the usual not terribly subtle love as a drug rush metaphor, although the odd line stick in the mind, “I’ll describe they way I feel / You’re my new Achilles heel.” Despite this, ‘Special K’ is an excellent track and finally reassures the listener Placebo have not lost it. Second single ‘Slave to the Wage’ is also fantastic stuff. Brian and co have obviously been listening to their old New Order records recently as the track motors along powered by a Peter Hook aping melodic bass line. Brilliant synthesiser swirls and a powerful chorus add to the appeal as does the impassioned Molko vocal. Lyrically the track veers between the sublime, “Run away from all your boredom / Run away from all your whoredom.” To the ridiculous, “Sick and tired of Maggie’s barn / She’s a b**ch with broken arms.” I see, and by this you mean what exactly? But then this is to be expected from a Placebo record and doesn’t detract from the appeal of the song. ‘Black Eyed’ also sounds like its been touched by the hand of New Order, with the occasional synth blip and another pounding catchy bass line. The tension between the swirling unstructured verses and the tightly focused guitar frenzies of the chorus is intriguing whilst Molko turns in one of his best vocals, particularly during the chorus. The conversational, confessional lyric also impresses, standing out from the tedious drug references and the sea of slightly surreal imagery. ‘Spite and Malice’ is the other track to come out of Placebo’s experimentation with other musical genres. Featuring a guest rapper, spouting the mantra of the White Panther Party, “Dope, Guns, F***ing in the streets” and hip-hop-esque drum patterns, you might well expect this to be awful. Shockingly however, it works brilliantly, the thumping bass accompanying a nervy Molko vocal during the vers
e and a swirl of computerised guitar sweeping in during the rap sections. All this comes to a tremendous climax with a wonderfully timed vocal hook working in counterplay to the repeated “Dope Guns etc” line. All this capped off with a classic Placebo instrumental which threatens to collapse in a sea of distortion before pulling back spectacularly from the brink. ‘Spite and Malice’ is an excellent advertisement for co-operation between musical genres, and heaven knows there are few of those. In general the album is far more up beat then ‘Without You I’m Nothing’, although for those who prefer the darker slower side of Placebo there are plenty of standouts. Central track ‘Blue American’ is a delicious sparse piano ballad. A dark chorusless track, the song ripples along atmospherically as Molko enquires “Who is Uncle Tom” and admits “I’m so pretentious / Yes it’s true”. Well you said it Brian. Bleak the track may be but there is a surprising air of delicate beauty to it, a dark almost ashamed confession in amongst a celebration of the gutter. The final two tracks also remind of ‘Without You I’m Nothing’’s dark musings. Of the two ‘Narcoleptic’ is the weaker track, despite a lovely subtle bass line and restrained, intricate guitar work, the vocal melody is far to close to ‘Burger Queen’, to the extent I was tempted so sing ‘Luxemburger Queen’ during the refrain. The track does gain brownie points for a tender vocal and a wonderful middle eight, which does a lovely job of making depression seem strangely desirable but ultimately falls short of the bands best. Closing track ‘Peeping Tom’ is on the other hand is as good a ballad as Placebo have ever produced, a delightful interplay between the pretty piano line and the slow high pitched squeals of guitar seals a terrific instru
mental arrangement whilst the melody floats along with almost effortless ease. The guitars are kept in close check throughout, threatening to rise up during the chorus but reined back sufficiently to keep the tension but not swamp the song. The only evidence of the much-trumpeted political lyrical content is on the truly dreadful ‘Haemoglobin’. Molko claims the song is about racism, this may well be true, but his attempt at empathy with a lynched slave is cringeworthy and the thrashy tuneless drivel which accompanies it scarcely better. That track and ‘Days Before You Came’ aside Placebo barely put a foot wrong here for what is undoubtedly their most consistent long player yet. Carefully mixing the spiky yet catchy vignettes of scuzzy indie pop from their debut with the epic bleakness of the follow up this is undoubtedly the finest distillation of the Placebo experience yet. True if you hate the band you’re unlikely to warm to this record but this is excellent stuff for the converted and a good starting point for those who have yet to experience their delights.
Am I a fan of Placebo? I truly cannot say yes or no, but my husband is a fan and is slowly trying to convert me. Some background information for you. Placebo are Brian Molko (vocals, guitar), Stefan Olsdal (bass, guitar and keyboards) and Steve Hewitt (drums). An American, a Swede and an Englishman. On the surface they seem to have nothing in common, however, Molko and Olsdal have known each other since their early schooldays in Luxembourg of all places. Molko arrived in London when he was 17, and proceeded to study drama. By sheer accident Olsdal and Molko bumped into each other in London. By this time, Molko has realised some of his ambition, and was already working with drummer Steve Hewitt. They decided to form a band, and Placebo was born. Placebo burst onto the scene when Britpop seemed to be everywhere, and there was nothing else like Placebo, so people sat up and took notice. Molko is a striking front man, who has a love of make up and womens clothes, and seemingly the colour black. Now onto the real opinion. "Black Market Music" is the 3rd release from the band, and it seems to fall slightly short of the previous two, as it just does not seem to be able to keep up the momentum, and falls a little flat. On first listen, I found it very hard on the ears, and less likeable if the truth be known. I tried again though, and it is growing on me. True fans will be overjoyed as there are some anthems on there for the die hard Placebo fan. Molko's voice seems harsher and more highly pitched than I have ever heard, which may explain why it was hard work first time round, but after a few more listens, you start to realise that every emotion is shown in his voice. "Taste In Men" was released as a single, but disappeared quickly without a trace, noticed only by the fans. "Days Before You Came" has energy and sounds like Placebo of old. "Special K" was the second release from the album, and again it seemed to have no impact which I have found puzzling, as single releases from the first two albums did so well. There was a lot of controversy surrounding the lyrics, although I cannot see why. I think sometimes the establishment look to censor things that are not a problem. The middle of the album is where I hit a stumbling block, as it becomes very average with "Spite & Malice" and "Passive Aggressive". "Black Eyed" could have described the make up of Molko. It is actually about someone who is so scarred by their past that they have become so full of anger that they cannot treat others well. "Blue American" is a ballad, although it is mediocre compared to past offerings. Just when you thought it was time to mellow out, "Slave to The Wage" picks up the pace, and gives you glimpses of what could have been. "Commercial For Levi" has lyrics which are a bit close to the bone. Molko sings about bodily fluids and strange sex acts. Why? Then this strange offering is followed up by the dreadful "Haemoglobin". The pick of the CD is "Narcoleptic", and it is shame it comes so late. The lyrics are great, and it is a song which swins around in your head for hours after the CD is finished. The CD can only limp across the finish line with "Peeping Tom". I am not all that impressed, and much prefer "Without You I Am Nothing", and maybe that is what anyone other than a devoted fan may think.
Now my feet don't touch the ground. Wasn't totally sure why I bought this album; I hadn't really been into the two singles I'd heard (Taste In Men and Slave To The Wage) but I was glad I got it. Why? It's edgy rock/punk stuff from some nice men with black hair and lip gloss? Yeh mebbe. I can understand that some of Placebo's oringinal fans aren't into the rap thing on the track 'Spite and Malice', but I love it. It's especially spooky when listened to in the dark, as I found last christmas when the house was quiet. This song is neah neahhh music, building up and going crazy when that guitar and rap kicks in. cool. But there are no fillers at all here. Check out Haemoglobin, a rocky song about being stuck in a tree while realising Haemoglobin is the key. Initially I didn't like this, but it grew and grew on me. *OthER highlights* *the aforemented Spite and Malice* Commercial For Levi - about drugs, as normal. liked listening to this in the dark but it isn't really spooky, although kinda plaintive with the lyrics 'PLease don't die' and the hidden Black Market Music, less rocky with strings and things: which is a fitting end to high class album from Bryan and his friends. There are plenty other stand out tracks, some slow like the narcoleptice but still entertaining 'Narcoleptic' and fast like Days Before You Came. Another highlight - Blackeyed....but I could go on forever. It's all worth it I recommend this to any new fans of Placebo, cos I think, after hearing their other stuff, that's it's probbably their most accessible work to date. Should please the older fans aswell.
The first time Black Market Music graces your stereo, you'll feel the raw emotion hitting you in waves and know then that you're sampling pure musical genius. Perfection from start to finish: from the dark, hypnotic Taste In Men through the blistering Days Before You Came and Special K, the soothing Blue American, the shock lyrics of Commercial For Levi, and almost full circle to the equally hypnotic (if infinitely more relaxed) Peeping Tom. Not forgetting Slave To The Wage, the centrepiece of the album, with such musical power as to touch your soul! I've never heard an album that got inside my head as quickly as Black Market Music - it'll make you think, it'll make you feel, and it'll make you fall in love with music all over again.
Placebo, without doubt are one of, if not THE best band in the world today. Their unique style of rock music, and appearance, has earned them a huge cult following, and it's no surprise to many people. Placebo's frontman, the androgynous Brian Molko, writes songs with true meaning and emotions, without fail, almost every time; unlike the majority of bands, who write for a catchy chorus and the chance to earn big bucks. Well..of course; every band aims to make some money, but Placebo go far beyond your everyday, run-of-the-mill rock group. 1996 saw the release of their debut (self-titled) album. Earning critical acclaim from virtually every respected journalist, "Placebo" went on to become one of the year's best selling albums, in terms of the indie/alternative market at least. One thing is for sure; the sheer volume of new, fresh, yet somehow mature sounds compiled onto their debut disc, combined with their energetic live acts, particulary at festivals, and also their somewhat quirky image, got the group a strong foothold and opened their eyes to success beyond their biggest hit from "Placebo", "Nancy Boy"; a progressive-type rock track, with somewhat risque content - still managed to reach number four in the UK Top 40. Therefore, extending the group's fanbase to the pop-buying public, and sure enough, "Bruise Pristine" (the third single from the album) reached top 20 status. 1998 saw the release of "Placebo"'s follow-up, the emotionally-charge "Without You I'm Nothing" - the album which saw Placebo hit the big time; "Pure Morning" hit the number four spot (is that the highest they will ever get to?), along with several other releases. And to crown it all, a career-defining moment, performing at the Brit Awards live with David Bowie. Generally though, this album was much more downbeat and thought-provoking than
the first album, filled with darker ballads rather than energetic numbers like those encountered on the debut release. However, even more exposure was gained from this album - hailed as one of the top 100 albums ever (and one of the best of 1999) by Q Magazine, "Without You I'm Nothing" saw Placebo go slightly more mainstream as a band due to their huge fanbase and increasing numbers of admirers, those who knew their stuff, so to speak. And so, flanked once again by a chart-friendly single ("Taste In Men"), Placebo returned with a bang in the Autumn of 2000 - and a sigh of relief was released by those who had just had enough of the N-Sync style pop groups. Could Placebo provide a refreshing alternative, yet again? Of course, the answer was to be proven a resounding "yes", but the bigger, burning question on everyone's lips was how much their music and style had changed. "Taste In Men" didn't give much away. Remaining almost entirely downbeat and almost depressing, yet combined with a rousing guitar backing, the single seemed to hint at the styles from both previous albums individually. The highly-anticipated third album; "Black Market Music" would provide the answer. Immediately on announcement of the title of the album, we were given a hint that this was to be something new, something quite possibly, spectacular. Were we to be disappointed? Confused? Quite possibly...surprised, maybe. But disappointed? Certainly not! Ok, I must admit; after one complete run through, I was totally dejected - had I wasted my hard-earned money on a (shock, horror!) bad album from Placebo? Well..put simply, there is, in my (humble) opinion; no such thing as a bad Placebo album. But however much I was expecting a chaotic bass riff to storm in halfway through most tracks (and not getting it), after a few careful listens, I was more than happy. Style c
hange is always hard to adapt to, and although songs like "Commercial For Levi" are certainly not "vintage" Placebo, I would go as far to say that this song, in particular, could well be their best song, however (and I quote) "criminally short" it is. In fact, the first single release, "Taste In Men", (incidentally; followed up by "Slave To The Wage"), could be considered as one of the worst songs on the album. On the subject of bad songs, I would (unfortunately) have to pick out "Blue American" for this dubious title - surprisingly, not only is it a bad Placebo song, it's just a bad song altogether - although I know many who have said they love it! And also, for a "secret" track, "Black Market Blood" is particularly poor for a bonus track. But undoubtedly, the sheer class of the vast majority of the other songs more than compensates for the above, weaker, songs. Surely songs like "Passive Aggressive", "Haemoglobin", "Special K", "Commercial For Levi" and the rap/rock hybrid "Spite & Malice" can be regarded, even now as some of Placebo's best work? "Passive Aggressive" is just one of the most emotional songs I have heard, but yet retains the rock "edge" from earlier days. As a conclusion though, I will try to use only single words to sum up the brilliance of this record. Emotional. Rock. Genius? Overall a simply superb album, I cannot recommend it enough.
This Album is the best offering yet from Placebo, although this album was originally released based on two songs "Taste in Men" and "Slave to the Wage". The rest of this album is really good, Brian Molko has out done himself again with another set of brilliant songs. There are very few poor songs on this 12 Track album. although the poorer songs I believe are "Spite and Malice", "Passive Aggressive" and "Narcoleptic", apart from these the album is excellent.
Taste in Men the first single to come from the album and the first track is definetly BAD, but from track two (Days before you came) it gets a LOT BETTER.Placebo have developed a great deal in this album and this shows.Commercial for Levi's is the best track, then Spite and Malice and Special K, and then American Blue. The reat of the tracks are good, but some do sound a bit 'samey'. This album, their third, is definetly the best and I would certainly recommed it to anyone who was just getting in to them of if they were just getting in to the whole Goth Rock Scene, They most definetly are the best band in the whole of the alternative scene, along with JJ72 I think that they will take over the world.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Taste in men
2 Days before you came
3 Special K
4 Spite & malice
5 Passive aggessive
7 Blue american
8 Slave to the wage
9 Commercial for Levi
12 Peeping Tom