Nine years since the release of their last album, Brian Molko is still depressed. The Placebo frontman’s nihilistic reflections shaped the sound of sad 90s teens across the world – and there’s something reassuring in knowing that, despite the almost decade-long break, Placebo is still exactly the same.
While the band’s last two albums attempted to craft a more mainstream sound, Never Let Me Go returns to their experimental (and extreme) roots. “I don’t wanna see myself,” Molko sings on “Hugz”, a panicked assault of guitars and screeching synths. “I just wanna conceal myself.” Familiar themes of meds and paranoia surface on tracks like “Happy Birthday in the Sky” and “Searching for Spies”, while “Try Better Next Time” takes nihilism to the extreme as Molko sings about returning to the primordial soup (“Grow fins and go back in the water”).
The world has undoubtedly changed since the band first picked up their electric guitars in 1994. And while the themes in Never Let Me Go reflect our current society, through mentions of ecological disaster, political tensions, and targeted individuals, its content feels authentic to itself. A perfect balance of deft lyricism and crashing rock noir that would make any Placebo head smile.