No 1. Placebo - Meds
Let’s face it, Placebo have never been much of an ‘uplifting’ kind of band, and are more a soundtrack to committing suicide than a party anthem heavy outfit, not that that's necessarily a bad thing, as you'll find out when you read on.
Meds a rip-roaring effort packed with cracking moments, yet it was also their most human collection of work.
The dark themes remain, coupled with the melancholy guitar riffs that made them so addictive. Yet there are also moments of beauty that demonstrate a confident band that is continually striving to evolve.
What’s more, there are a couple of telling collaborations that really do make Meds a downright essential prescription to get hold of.
Alison Mosshart, of The Kills, guests on album opener and title track Meds, adding extra intensity to the tragic tale of fragile souls freaking out because they’ve forgotten to take their medication. I suspect this may be based on real life.
It’s a souped-up, searing introduction to the album that thrives on the vocal chemistry between Brian Molko and Mosshart that eases effortlessly into the adrenaline rush that is Infra-Red, another molten barnstormer.
Again, it dwells on illness and foreboding with lyrics such as ‘someone call the ambulance, there’s going to be an accident’.
Having got off to such a rip-roaring start, however, the album sometimes struggles to maintain such high standards.
Drag is a business-like rocker, while Space Monkey explores the mysterious, haunting side of the band and is only partially successful.
But normal service is resumed during the beautiful, thoughtful ballad Follow The Cops Back Home, which is constructed around some achingly poignant hooks and Molko’s sincere, heartbreaking vocals. It is undoubtedly one of the album’s highlights.
Post Blue contains some provocative guitar riffs to match the emotive lyrics (‘it’s in the water baby, it’s in the way we fuck’), while lead single Because I Want You capably demonstrates the band’s ability to flirt with the mainstream, emerging as an impassioned yet upbeat plea not to give up on love.
The single brings us to two more album highlights, the melancholy Blind which marries some truly addictive guitar hooks with some tender piano chords, and the excellent Broken Promises, the band’s duet with REM’s Michael Stipe, that drips with quality.
Beginning slowly, the track drops Stipe’s atmospheric vocals to haunting effect, before unleashing Molko’s amid a flurry of violent guitars and angry, angry emotions. It’s a rousing, inspiring onslaught that succeeds in raising the hairs on the back of your neck.
In between is the equally magnificent Pierrot The Clown, shifting tones again to more melancholy pastures.
I love Meds, and while I know the album (and the band) are not for everyone, check it out - you might be surprised.