After a few missteps and clumsinesses, a trivial B3, I was enchanted since the very first listening of the track Too Many Friends, a few months ago. It sounded like "good" Placebo, we felt a kind of evolution but it pleased me well, I was then curious to discover their album Loud Like Love, released September 2013.
...And I was very disappointed. The album has more pop sound, is sometimes intimate, lyrics are raw and very similar to the ones sung by Nicola Sirkis, leader of the French band Indochine. Placebo's main problem is that they don't seem to manage striking a better balance for their sound. Brian Molko is the center of everything, we only hear him (which is quite normal for a singer, but he souldn't overshadow the whole instrumental part, which is sometimes left aside), and that is put forward by the track Bosco: the singer's voice is only accompanied by a background piano melody without any real interest.
The sound of the synthetizers is often too wobbly, the rock songs sound like déjà-vu, violins are too dripping: Placebo hasn't find any balance and fall into some cliché.
At least, we feel that the band aged a bit (Moklo is now over 40... even if he still doesn't look like he is), they - hopefully - come with a less pushy sound that the one on Battle Of The Sun , even if they don't offer a real work of art either.
Nevertheless, I would directly say that this album is "bad". After all, it shows a clear evolution for the band and there are not just bad things about this, far from it. But I believe it is still too drafty to fully appreciate it - maybe that less demanding ears would feel very differently about that.
This other review sums it up well:
« When they’re trying to provoke a reaction, they come across as trying too hard. When they put more focus on restraint, they’re capable of still being relevant. Loud Like Love has bright spots, but the laborious moments threaten to undo their good work. Those who never boarded the Placebo train in the first place will find little here to make them reconsider, and even the die-hards might have to admit that their favourite band are at a crossroads. »
Some add that "the next pull will be the one". According to me, I believe that Placebo has still way to go if they want to subjuguate their audience again. But there's hope!