Placebo

Black Market Music (Virgin Records)

The British neo-glam rockers of Placebo have become the most blatantly formulaic band in modern memory, conceptually lashed to an m.o. that's hurtling down the freeway, rapidly accumulating mileage. In five years of existence, Placebo hasn't found the time to rotate the tires or change the oil. Black Market Music is the third time the group has made essentially the same album. The troika is remarkably similar, even down to the secret hidden bonus tracks at the end of each one. Placebo constructs its songs with such simple but effective ingredients: a looped rhythm track; sharp, minimalist bass; skeletal guitar heaviness; and Brian Molko's helium-tinged voice and increasingly similar lyrics. In fact only three or four Placebo songs actually exist; the titles are interchangeable. Also becoming tiresome: Molko's penchant for reciting the title as a mantra, most annoying on "Taste in Men" (and its too-obvious Chemical Brothers sample) and "Haemoglobin." The only piece missing this time is a memorable hook fest like "Nancy Boy" or "Pure Morning." Unless it demonstrates the capacity to alter this rigid formula, Placebo is doomed to repeat its own history.

 
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