Black Market Music

Black Market Music

Placebo leader Brian Molko captured the imagination of the British press in ways that never quite translated in America. A few hits might have altered the band's perception in the U.S., but something in Molko's hedonistic decadence didn't grip American music fans the way that David Bowie's outlandishness had. (Even Marilyn Manson settled for sideshow status.) The themes on Placebo's third album, Black Market Music, might seem cryptic for U.S. listeners, since so much of Molko's posturing is based on his image in the U.K. press. Molko's a throwback to the days when rock stars didn't do benefits for causes greater than themselves, and when feeling sorry for your misunderstood self was on the first page of the playbook. A magnificent anxiety-ridden tune like "Peeping Tom"—with its cry of "I'm weightless/I'm bare/I'm faithless/I'm scared"—would be as talked-about and relevant as the day's mail. "Haemoglobin" turns the victim card even scarier: "I was hanging from a tree/Unaccustomed to such violence." It's a melodrama that will inspire some and alienate others. Molko would have it no other way.

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