Placebo - Battle For The Sun

'Kings Of Medicine' has all the venom of the group's early work but cocooned in a case of classical sounds and infectious beeps.

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Released 9 Jun 2009 | Dream Brother | By Dom Smith | Rating: 4
Placebo - Battle For The Sun

After Placebo returned to form with 2006's 'Meds', expectations were high for 'Battle For The Sun' and they have not disappointed. The sound is that of a re-invigorated band that have created something bigger, brighter and much more optimistic than we could have imagined. Opener 'Kitty Litter' is a spiteful slice of punk with some skyscraping riffs, grand keyboards and a bombastic, rock-hard chorus that's rounded off by essential sing-along lyrics. 'Ashtray Heart' mixes in proud guitars and Brian Molko's trademark croon and as the track expands for a massive chorus it's clear that the band have put all of their collective energy into making it sound epic.

The title-track starts off slow and then explodes into life for an inspirational and thumping beast made up of furious guitar sounds, great classical instrumentation and a healthy dose of angst for good measure. 'For What It's Worth' is probably the most upbeat thing they have ever written. You will probably like the way that the funky trumpets and saxophones smash up against the suitably dark lyrics, but you will certainly adore the toy keyboard break one minute in, a case of accidental genius that'll definitely annoy the Goths. 'Devil In The Details' is reflective and there's some nifty electronic work on offer to help create a striking ambience. 'Bright Lights' is an optimistic tune that could very well be a metaphor for Molko's past and how he, and Placebo as a unit, have become stronger through adversity. It's very much open to interpretation though, and the overriding theme of triumph through heartbreak is easily accessed by the listener.

'Speak In Tongues' is the album's standout tune and it blends subtle keys with an addictive and mammoth chorus that recalls the emotional depth and diversity of 'Black Market Music', and is one of Placebo's greatest achievements. 'The Never-Ending Why' is an enchanting indie-rock anthem for life's problems made complete by brass instruments, abrasive drumming and some classic guitar work. In comparison, 'Julien' is an unusually attractive slice of electro-pop with huge violins and sledgehammer rock beats. On here the vocals take a back seat and the listener is reminded subtly that this album is the whole band's masterpiece. 'Happy You're Gone' is the only real 'Placebo-by-numbers' tune on offer, but it still packs one hell of a punch. From a soft and seductive opening to the full fat chorus, this thought-provoking track sees the vocalist at his most introspective and personal. By contrast, 'Breathe Underwater' is the collection's heaviest track, built for packed-out, sweaty dancefloors - a future live anthem.

The sombre 'Come Undone' is a guitar-led ditty that recalls the glory days of Britpop, whilst the final track 'Kings Of Medicine' has all the venom of the group's early work but cocooned in a case of classical sounds and infectious beeps - if Edward Scissorhands were to have an inspirational tune, this would be it. An affecting song built to inspire those who feel they're fighting an uphill battle; embracing the themes Placebo have always stood behind, but just a bit more cheerful sounding.