Back after a three-year absence, Placebo must have been wondering on how they can capitalise on the current trend of youthful bands with jerky riffs, bouncy beats and of course, the obligatory synthesiser that every band on the planet seem to be utilising these days. For their sixth album, however, it seems like they've shunned all notions of reinvention - despite recruiting new drummer Steve Forrest for the departed Steve Hewitt in the interim - and stuck to their alt-rock roots. The only problem is that those roots are now becoming husky and brittle without any élan vital being breathed into them. Opening track 'Kitty Litter' is a reasonable kickoff, all chunky beats and squealing, powerful guitars. 'Battle for the Sun' is equally fine, although it's one of several tracks that fall into the clichéd 'more orchestra!' platitude, and 'Breathe Underwater' is at least tolerable in its feeble attempt at ballsy rock riffage.
Without any real snap or genuine musical vigour, though, the focus is drawn to Molko's pathetic lyrics. "Now I stare into the void / So many people I've annoyed", he drawls on the loose, almost poppy 'Bright Lights', while 'Come Undone' quite aptly elicits the expression 'Jesus Christ!' with the dire line "You don't know how you're coming across / Acting like you don't give a toss / Walking around like you're on some kind of cross."
It's dull, it's disappointing, and it's a completely one-dimensional offering from a band who seem like they've nothing left to say. If this is their public decree in the grandiosely-titled Battle for the Sun, they probably should have just stayed indoors and smeared themselves in Factor-50.