There's always been an air of mystery to Placebo frontman Brian Molko, akin to David Bowie. Arguably, such artists are a dying breed these days.
Almost a decade since their last record, 2013's 'Loud Like Love', Placebo's new album, 'Never Let Me Go', is highly experimentative but still the Placebo we fell in love with in the 90s; Punky, angsty, grunge, glam, goth, topped off with Molko's beyond compare vocals.
After a greatest hits album and years of non-stop touring, the now-duo - completed by Stefan Olsdal - are rebooted and back with a vengeance.
Molko unleashes his cynicism toward the state of the world on brutal, manic, cathartic and heartbreaking ‘Never Let Me Go’.
“It’s so good when I feel nothing,” the frontman repeats over and over on ferocious opener ‘Forever Chemicals’. Rimming with nihilism, the listener is instantly transported to another dimension, via a wave of peculiar, distorted industrial beats and synths.
What comes next couldn’t be more different, ‘Beautiful James’, is a tender anthem dedicated to “non-heteronormative relationships," and the melody hits you in the heart even more after such a frantic opening.
Almost halfway through, orchestral symphony ‘The Prodigal’ offers a glimmer of hope in the purist form, with epic John Williams-esque arrangements.
Elsewhere, 'Chemtrails' is a shining example of how their vast experimentation with synthesisers has paid off.
You won't find a 'Nancy Boy', 'Meds' or 'Pure Morning' - but that would defeat Placebo's objective of stepping out of the shadows of their greatest hits to put their feet firmly in the future.
'Never Let Me Go' is a reinvention we can get behind.
Release date: 25.03.22