This is a singles collection which reveals to the listener the most seductively...
Jaime Gill 2003
There are many different versions of the Placebo story. There's the accurate but dull one about how Brian Molko has an irritating public persona and a receding hairline. There's that depressing one about how maliciously and unfairly they've been treated by the British rock press. But my favourite of all is the one about this perverse trio who wrote these extraordinary songs...
It's about a band who became famous for a song so sexually brave and confrontational that coy odes to boys called "Michael" sound feeble in comparison. A song about being a "Nancy Boy", about lube and rubbers and how "We're a couple / When our bodies double." And about how Molko, an actual functioning bisexual, has been unpleasantly dismissed as a sexual dilettante while the charlatan bisexuals reap plaudits.
Once More With Feeling is all about a band who wrote a song called "You Don't Care About Us". A track that's propelled by an unstoppable, elastic bass line and that flips manically between wise, sighing despair and spitting adolescent rage. A song which feels like it had no choice but to be written and which is one of the rawest, most brilliant singles of the last decade.
It's a story about the shuddering electronica of "Pure Morning", the sleazy sneer of "Every You, Every Me" and the searing riff of "Bruise Pristine". It's about a band constrained by their musical limitations but who thrashed happily within them. It's about the way that "Special K" climbs frantically towards its chorus before collapsing sadly under its own weight.
This is a singles collection which reveals to the listener the most seductively bruising rock band of recent years. Each song stems from a songwriter so instinctive and precise that when he writes a song called "The Bitter End", that's exactly what it sounds like.
And yes, it's a tale about an imperfect band, a band prone to sloppy sloganeering like "Slave To The Wage" or clumsy posturing like "Black Eyed". But the band remain electrifying, alive and enthralling in all those imperfections.
This is a story about a band who have remained fiercely independent in a bland pop landscape. Read it.