Unlike many Brit stars, who play to the "Oh I'm so cool, I hung with the dude from The Streets, he's my mate like, he played pinball with me" Q and NME journos, Placebo are the intellectual rock fan's hard rock. They're self aware even as they self destruct.
This is perhaps the source of their tortured tone. Their portrait of the rock n roll lifestyle is also a portrait of the futility of a life consisting just of casual encounters, drugs and other soon to fade, but wonderful sensations. So they've been accused of being pretentious. A pretentious glam indie rock band? Surely that can't be! And remember, there's a big difference between pretentious and fake.
If Placebo aren't the real thing, they're doing a convincing job of acting like they are, and you'll probably warm to their contradictions. A lyric like "Since I was born I started to decay / Now nothing ever ever goes my way" is delivered with such passionate melodic grunginess that you just want to jump up and down with the joy of being alive. But you'd feel stupid.
Placebo mix the art of witty theory "A friend in need's a friend in deed / a friend with weed is better" with violently impressionistic trips like "Got the muse in my head she's universal / spinnin' me round she's coming over me" on "Nancy Boy" The compilation flows well despite stylistic and thematic shifts through 19 arresting tracks, not all pretty, but all pretty great. Three of the songs are new. The last, "Twenty Years", takes an open ended, slightly mysterious look at the future and, literally, at what we will make of it, indicating a promisingly gentle new musical and lyrical direction.
- Jean Barker
WHAT OTHER CRITICS SAIDPlacebo's music is so full of sex and drugs, it's amazing the rock & roll doesn't come across as an afterthought. On the contrary, Once More with Feeling proves the androgynous, pan-sexual, pan-European trio to be one of the UK's most consistent singles bands. - John Bergstrom for Pop Matters
This is a singles collection which reveals to the listener the most seductively bruising rock band of recent years. - Jaime Gill for BBC* Listen to the selection of tracks on the Left hand side to decide for yourself.
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