Commendably sells their incomparable brand of dark, licentious rock beautifully.
Al Fox 2010-05-19
The very idea of a covers album may have connotations of a concept employed by waning pop artists taking a stab at swing music. However, this collection of re-readings from post-Britpop neo-glam bastions Placebo is an entirely different entity. A smattering of B sides, live favourites and other rarities make Covers a one-artist compilation album as opposed to a from-scratch covers project, and it functions all the better for it.
Originally released as a bonus disc to accompany 2003 album Sleeping With Ghosts, then given a limited standalone push in 2007, Covers finally warrants a full release in its own right. And headed up by their sullen, cerebral take on Running Up That Hill (a long-established Placebo catalogue staple), its appeal, unlike its sporadic life as an album thus far, is immediate.
An interpretation of Depeche Mode’s I Feel You is among the more dependable covers, as is their 20th Century Boy, originally recorded for the Velvet Goldmine soundtrack. Elsewhere, a radio session take on the Pixies’ Where Is My Mind – surprisingly polished for a live version – operates as both a tribute and a display of fandom towards a band whose influence in Placebo’s output is unmistakable.
Its decade-straddling compilation aspect makes Covers all the more extraordinary, its constancy completely steadfast. The lone exception to the brilliance comes via an oddly faithful version of Boney M's Daddy Cool, which has to be consumed as the side dish to a sizeable main portion of irony to stomach; and yet, its clunky audacity is admirable.
Where an album of this type is often one for the fans, it’s doubtful there’s a Placebo devotee that doesn’t already have a copy of Covers knocking about. Rather, it’s something to turn the heads of the music fans for whom Placebo have never fully broken the surface, and even more commendably for an album without a solitary Placebo original, it sells their incomparable brand of dark, licentious rock beautifully.