Anodyne, Oct'96

by Scott D.Lewis

Knowing nothing about this band, I threw their debut album in the player and went about some mundane household tasks. I was quickly and thoroughly pulled in by fuzzy, expansive guitar riffs, crisp, multi-tempo drumming and vocalist's edgy, slightly disturbed and unabashedly sexy growl. By the time "Nancy Boy", a gender-bending sonic intoxicant gushed from my system, I needed to know who the woman was responsible for the heady treasure I had found. A glance at the credits revealed my answer: Brian Molko. WHAT!? Brian? That chick is a guy? Great...That's at least an extra year's worth of therapy. Yeah, Placebo has a guy that sounds (and looks) like a woman. It's also true that this band is splendid.

Placebo makes the kind of musical ruckus that could incite me to turn my life into an endless series of sleepless nights filled with various drugs and plenty of drinks, have sketchy encounters with seedy sorts and engage in the type of reckless physical abandon that can land you behind the bars in several states. The album's first single, "36 Degrees", infects as it races around in circles before opening up for the tension-filled chorus which comes off like a child's magical, rhyming riddle.

Placebo fills their lyrics with oblique fascination and references to body parts and functioning creeps up often as in the sedate "I.O,"'s discussion of a Chinese masseuse's plastic penis, and the seductive Sonic Youth homages of "Bionic", and "Bruise Pristine", which is a lovely spitting and pissing rant.

The final two tracks of the ten slowly bring things to a gentle, semi-conscious close that can be used as a sort of refractory period before gearing up the for the next round of indulgence, the next listen. There is even a drifting, spacious instrumental hidden-track for those who have learned to delay immediate (re)gratification.