Some have said this is an album for people who love Placebo, as if it was written for the fans. If there is one band that has proven time and time again through their craft that they are not in the business of pleasing their fans, it is Placebo.
Most Placebo fans would prefer it if Brian was still running around in a dress and about to get a sex change. Most Placebo fans would love it if Placebo played 'Nancy Boy' at all of their concerts. But neither of those is the case any longer.
No. This is 2006. And one can't help talking about MEDS without also talking about how Placebo have changed over the past 10 years.
Brian is father now (hence the line "Out of the womb and into the void" from 'One Of A Kind'). Gone is the bitchy and antagonistic tone in interviews. There are no more stories about Placebo "leaving a trail of blood and spunk" across the globe.
You can't say MEDS is a return to Placebo's roots, because that's what the buzz has been for every album since WITHOUT YOU I'M NOTHING.
What you can say, is that MEDS is a damn fine record, and one that Placebo has every right to be proud of.
It was written fast. It was recorded fast.
Every song has a sense of urgency about it, a sense of being all about the moment.
The opening and title track 'Meds' begins with solo guitar and just Mr Molko's voice, like a bird of prey circling silently far off in the distance, getting closer, getting louder, getting faster, and then it proceeds to swoop down on you like a predator, and by the end you just can't help but be tapping your foot and screaming "Baby, did you forget to take your meds?" The vocals of VV from The Kills add a nice touch to this track. It's good that her and Brian didn't sing over each other like Placebo has done with other duets in the past.
'Infra-Red' is somewhat of a distillation of all the ill-feeling left by past relationships that Placebo has always sung about. "Someone call an ambulance, there's gonna be an accident...Forget your running, I will find you..." That pretty much says it all.
'Drag' is about everything you feel when you're in love with someone and can't help but feel you're a mere insect, a stain on the bottom of their boot, an entirely unworthy speck of dust just lucky enough to even be in your lover's presence.
'Space Monkey' takes you on a trip out of this world.
'Post Blue'...well...I honestly don't know what this one is about. It's just fun to listen to.
'Because I Want You', the first UK single off MEDS, is a pretty damn good piece of pop rock catchiness. The lyrics don't really mean much, but then they're not supposed to. This song is all about grabbing your attention. Mr Hewitt's drumming on this track, however, is pretty fantastic.
'Blind' is, I must confess, my favorite song on the album. Yes, I know Placebo have said it's "a track for girls", but I don't care. Brian's vocals are absolutely stunning on this track, and they really remind me of the highs he can, and does reach during a live performance. Not to mention, the lyrics are simply extraordinary. "Don't go and leave me, and please don't drive me blind, You don't believe me, But you do this every time...If I could tear you from the ceiling, I'd freeze us both in time, And find a brand new way of seeing, your eyes forever glued to mine..."
'Pierrot The Clown' has a sadness about it that just can't be explained. Imagine being horribly abused by a lover and still laying around on the bed silently thinking to yourself, "And if you're ever around, in the city or the suburbs, of this town...Be sure to come around, I'll be wallowing in sorrow, Wearing a frown..." Not to mention some of the best lines, in my opinion, that Placebo has ever put to paper: "When I dream, I dream your lips...When I dream, I dream your kiss...When I dream, I dream your fists...your fists...your fists..."
'Broken Promise'...eh. Placebo really didn't use Michael Stipe's vocals to their "full potential" shall we say.
'One Of A Kind' is one for all the people out there who sat in the back of the class as a student, or who still do. "I'm on a race and I'm doing fine, thank you." Ever felt like that? Then you'll love this.
'In The Cold Light Of Morning' is a track I can only recommend closing your eyes and listening to in a dark quiet room, either with headphones or with the sound pumped way up. It's perhaps the most dreamy and hypnotic of all the songs on this album and it really takes you on a mental journey. The visuals, of stumbling home early in the morning, when the rest of the world is just starting their day and you're ending yours, and hating yourself for it--these visuals are strong enough. But more than what images this track conjures, the piano and drumming and vocals just come together in a perfect anesthetic mix.
'Song To Say Goodbye' shows more of that classic Placebo style by putting a song with the word "Goodbye" in the title at the end of an album (much like literally putting a young man romantically entangled with a ghost on the cover of an album titled SLEEPING WITH GHOSTS). That being said, this song is also a single, and it's far better than 'Because I Want You' because at least the lyrics go to darker and more original territory.
So there we have it.
Placebo's latest magnum opus.
Is it "their best work yet"?
Hell if I know. That's for you to decide.
PS, the bonus DVD is actually quite good. Aside from the "documentary" being way too short, it's quite a nice addition.
Good things about the DVD:
* If you're technically handy, you can extract complete instrumental versions of every track on MEDS via the 'Lyrics' section of DVD
* The included demo songs are actually better than the finished album tracks, if you ask me, and that's only because they really come alive and have a "raw" quality about them that the polished album tracks lack
* HOORAY! We finally get a crystal clear version of one of the best Placebo songs to never make it onto an official release until now, 'Long Division'