"Without You I'm Nothing"

The Atlanta Journal, Dec'98

Dec 24, 1998

by Doug Hamilton

Placebo Good Medicine For Alterna-Rock

ROCK "Without You I'm Nothing" Placebo.Virgin. 12 tracks. Grade: B+. The verdict: Contrary to its name, this band is a potent antidote to creeping alterna-rock malaise.

It's bands like Placebo that give rock 'n' roll its enduring kick. This trio of a Belgian (bassist Stefan Olsdal), a Brit (drummer Steve Hewitt) and a Yank (guitarist and vocalist Brian Molko) isn't the most technically proficient or profound group around. But what it lacks in substance it makes up in bratty, sleazy, sexually ambiguous panache.

The insinuating grind of "Pure Morning" kicks off this sophomore release with an erotic charge. Gender-bender Molko's dissolute whine fits the lyrics, about the benefits of finding "a friend with breasts and all the rest / A friend who's dressed in leather," like a body-hugging vinyl jumpsuit. Elsewhere, Molko dissects promiscuity ("Scared of Girls"), drug addiction and suicide ("My Sweet Prince") and his own emotional shortcomings ("You Don't Care About Us"). Throughout, his glam-punk guitar riffs and Olsdal's melodic bass lines, which at times recall the Cure, heighten the drama.