May 4, 2006

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Placebo, Meds
Astralwerks, 2006

Whatever kinds of medication the members of alt-rockers Placebo are on throughout their latest LP, Meds, they certainly don’t do much to improve the band’s monotonously mainstream sound.

Things get off to a decent start with the record’s title track, which features guest-vocalist Alison Mosshart (she’s from The Kills apparently) imploring, presumably to singer/guitarist Brian Molko, “Baby, did you forget to take your meds?” “Drag” and “Infra-Red” both boast enticing, radio-ready hooks straight out of the Pixies’ songwriting handbook in which the clean guitars of the verse give way to the abrasive, overdriven power chords of the anthemic chorus.

Unfortunately, Molko has a tendency to lean on this time-tested formula like a crutch, as “Blind,” “One of a Kind” and “Post Blue” all follow the same structural blueprint. This brand of comfort-food mentality results in many of Meds’ songs sounding explosively catchy yet hollow, not unlike the fleeting buzz one gets from a Snickers bar.

Placebo clearly is stuck in first gear here, as Meds never reaches the more adventurous experimental ground of 2003’s Sleeping with Ghosts. Additionally, Molko appears to have ditched his Marilyn Manson-lite androgynous shtick on this outing, settling for more straight-forward, red-state-approved lyrics like those of the thoroughly mundane “Broken Promise.” My medical advice: Give this album a few spins of attention, then file it away with similarly tepid efforts like Coldplay’s X&Y, A Perfect Circle’s Thirteenth Step and any given Foo Fighters record. C-
— Adam Marletta


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