The Mirror "Review of 'Once More With Feeling'", Oct'04

by Gavin Martin

Often it's the bands you least expect to last the course who spring a surprise and go the distance. Placebo, still at the top of their game after 10 years together, are a good example. Fronted by pint-sized, mixed-up boy Brian Molko, the three-piece were widely expected to come to a dead end shortly after their live fast, worry later debut album was released.

The expected car crash of mascara, bad drugs and petulant personalities never came, however. Instead, Placebo's distinctive mix of hard rock, melodic glam and whip-crack beats has gone from strength to strength.

Placebo soon fell from favour with the fashion-conscious music press, but it was the best thing that could have happened to them. While Molko's drooled-over peers such as Suede's Brett Anderson have fallen by the wayside, he's relished his outsider status.

Intense and dedicated, he's a rock 'n' roll survivor. Raw, tough and honest, Placebo's music embodies the qualities that others are too trend-obsessed to attain.

Slave To The Wage underlines their talent for nailing a testy-defiant lyric to a searing riff, English Summer Rain gives the Pet Shop Boys' deadpan pop a sizzling makeover, and New Order's dance innovations provide a lift-off point for You Don't Care About Us. Elsewhere the psychosexual cravings that defined their early days (Nancy Boy, Bruise Pristine) show a band with a strong worldview, based on personal experience.

From the anthemic (Special K) to the confessional (The Bitter End) and the brand new krautrock-influenced love song I Do, Placebo have refused to rest on their laurels. Factor in their ferocious live reputation and this career-spanning collection makes it easy to hear why they've been one of the most consistent bands the UK has seen.

Bowie's gender-bending blueprint obviously inspired them, but Placebo have never sounded like copycats. The Thin White Duke pays them a compliment by duetting on the excellent Without You I'm Nothing. A decade after they formed, Placebo have a legacy to be proud of. No wonder they still stand strong.