Outburn #16 "Black Market Music", winter'01-02

Black Market Music
4 out of 5 
by Brian Lumauig

SEX, DRUGS, AND GLAM ROCK: After their alt-rock radio hit "Pure Morning," Placebo return with a darker, more cynical release of punky glam rock dripping with sex, drugs, and double entendres. Black Market Music is the band's strongest effort to date refining their sound by bringing the signature vocals and the decadent lifestyle lyrics of Brian Molko into the forefront and solidified by the rhythm guitar and Steven Hewitt on drums. The end result is a great collection of songs that almost mirror the ups and downs of a mind blowing drug binge. from the aggressive guitar riffage of "Days Before You Came' to the rap rock flavor of "Spite & Malice," Placebo shows that they can produce adrenaline charged anthems for a lost generation, while slower songs like "Narcoleptic" and Peeping Tom" serve as the comedown from the highs. Elsewhere, the band shows their songwriting savvy with the dark and moody "Taste In Men" and the catchy "Commercial For Levi," which is Placebo at their most accessible as sexual innuendoes and drug references are a foundation for their twisted yet melodic take on pop music. The album's best offering, however, is the addictive "Special K" as mid-song tempo changes drag the listener in, ultimately leading to the sing-along chorus, almost reminiscent of Blondie's "Dreaming." Included as bonus tracks to the domestic version of Black Market Music are the band's impressive collaboration with David Bowie on "Without You I'm Nothing" and their haunting cover of Depeche Mode's "I Feel You." In the end, Placebo shows that they've indeed come into their own, with Black Market Music serving as an addictive dose of decadent glam rock.