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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Music Reivew-‘90s rock album delivers raw sound and candid lyrics

Photo+courtesy+of+Hut+Recordings%0AThe+release+of+Placebo%E2%80%99s+popular+second+album+greatly+aided+them+in+their+career+success.+It+peaked+at+number+eight+on+Billboard+200+in+Feb.+1999.
Photo courtesy of Hut Recordings The release of Placebo’s popular second album greatly aided them in their career success. It peaked at number eight on Billboard 200 in Feb. 1999.

ALYSON OLIVER
campus editor

Photo courtesy of Hut Recordings
The release of Placebo’s popular second album greatly aided them in their career success. It peaked at number eight on Billboard 200 in Feb. 1999.

London-born rock band Placebo, formed in the mid-1990s, isn’t afraid of authenticity.

“Nancy Boy,” a single from their self-titled debut album, started their upward trajectory. Their sophomore album, “Without You I’m Nothing,” sustained that trajectory, and their honest lyrical content and androgynous image set them apart from the pack as they rose in popularity.

“Without You I’m Nothing” was released in 1998. With it came five singles, a feature by David Bowie and plenty of rawness in its sound and subject matter.

“Cue to your face so forsaken,” laments the track “Summer’s Gone” over soft guitar strums. Other slow songs, such as “Ask For Answers,” “The Crawl” and “Burger Queen,” deliver the same permeating melancholy.

But not all of the instrumentals are sleepy. Many songs are full of fuzz effects and energy.

Hypnotic “Pure Morning” demonstrates this right away, kicking off the album with a catchy looped guitar riff and clever lyricism. The band no longer favors the track, as described by lead vocalist Brian Molko in a 2017 interview with NME, mainly because he feels it is not the greatest example of his lyric writing. However, it’s one of their most popular songs.

Other tracks, such as “You Don’t Care About Us,” carry The Clash and Sonic Youth’s likeness. “Scared of Girls” packs a headbanging punch.

One of the record’s best features is its lyrics.

It tells its share of dark stories — for instance, “Brick S—house” is a macabre tale narrated by a ghost, according to a Pukkelpop interview with Molko.

“Every You Every Me,” one of Placebo’s most popular songs, declares, “Carve your name into my arm / Instead of stressed, I lie here charmed.”

And “Allergic (To Thoughts of Mother Earth)” scorns a religion-based disregard of the climate by some, according to Molko in a 1998 interview with Sally Stratton, sourced from the Placebo Russia Archive.

Other songs drip with brutal honesty. The album’s title track tells the story of a failing relationship (“I seem to lose the power of speech / You’re slipping slowly from my reach”) to a powerful soundtrack.

And songs “The Crawl” and “My Sweet Prince” appear to deal with substance abuse. The latter, with its simple composition and haunting lyrics (“Never thought I’d have to retire / Never thought I’d have to abstain”), is one of the album’s best, most emotional tracks.

Listen closely, and you’ll find “Without You I’m Nothing” is an emotionally-charged experience as a whole.

Some listeners may find the lyrics too broody, while others may enjoy that component, and the record can blur together since some of it is fairly similar sonically.

Overall, though, the gloom is set to a beautiful soundtrack. It has its energetic moments and its darker ones. The lyrics and music complement each other wonderfully.

And Molko’s rhyme-laden, at times surreal writing style — punctuated by the periodic blunt word or phrase — goes nicely with the dark stories he tells.

Placebo’s “Without You I’m Nothing” is good for a late night or a rainy day. But it’s great enough to be enjoyed at any time, with or without a side of introspection.

 

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