May 3, 2012

Placebo - Placebo (1996)

I have no idea who this Marco dude is and why he's posting obscene music (pornogrind, really?) on Tzeeeac while I'm on vacation, but let's move on and talk about actual music, shall we?

Placebo have been one of my favorite bands for years, ever since my cousin forcefully introduced me to them. In 2005-2006, we were young and restless, we basically had no lives outside of school and the only times we met were when our parents would get together for Easter, Christmas and a few other occasions. Every time I came by her house, though, she was always listening to a loud, glam-punk band with twisted, poetic lyrics with an obvious erotic edge, and she called it "Placebo, stupid!". The music seemed weird and alien to me, as I was only listening to Nightwish and Ozzy Osbourne at the time and was reluctant to accept there exists other music besides old heavy metal songs that my dad used to listen to. In time, though, reluctance turned into curiosity. I was getting interested in the band. I started asking my cousin to show me videos and the band's image fit the music like a glove: Brian Molko was a skinny, junkie male slut with a girly haircut, drenched in mascara and wearing a black dress; the bassist was a tall, skinny gay dude with huge hands clad in fishnet shirts, while their drummer was a man's man, with long hair and a reserved demeanor behind the drum kit. I had never seen anything like it before and I was fascinated. For my 17th birthday, my cousin burned me a CD with the entire Placebo discography and a bunch of videos, thus turning me into an all-out fan. Then, a few months later, we went together to see them perform live and I was hopelessly hooked.

Their 1996 self-titled debut is a brilliant display of angst-ridden music that somehow still manages to feel uplifting, even in its darkest moments. Placebo were mixing drugged-out glam rock with a fuck you punk attitude and clever lyrics about heartbreak, hating people, being a self-loathing, sexually-ambiguous misfit yet finding the strength to move past it all and live your life exactly the way you want to - and I was loving it. Their self-titled album mixes melancholic, sometimes desperate-sounding songs like Lady of the Flowers and I Know with all-out rockers such as Nancy Boy and 36 Degrees, making for an exciting listen that never fails to entertain. Brian Molko isn't an exceptional guitarist by any means, but he always managed to bring the melody and punch that make a great punk song, while at the same time contributing his distinctive voice to wail the lyrics that confused me for years, only to make more and more sense as I was growing older.

Placebo's first album has aged beautifully and it still manages to sound fresh and exhilarating, even as the band has moved on in recent years to a more alternative rock sound that, frankly, doesn't do anything for me. Or for my cousin, who managed to move on from her obsession with Brian Molko's eyes and replace it with an almost pathological fixation with Arctic Monkeys and their handsome frontman, Alex Turner. I think she enjoys her compulsions. Rock on, Vana!

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