Squeaky Ears, Squeaky Voice

This whole tinnitus thing is having a strange effect on my brain. Because I’m not spending the best part of two hours a day on public transport listening to music, my brain is filling in the gaps by dredging its memory banks for most unexpected items. Last week I had “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” by REM, this week it’s been, rather less welcomely, “Pure Morning” by Placebo.

Now Placebo aren’t a band I have much cause to listen to, and “Pure Morning” was the song at which I thought “Are this lot taking the piss, or are they actually serious?”. The answer being, a bit of both, but as time went on it became far more of the latter than the former. Squeaky-voiced annoyance-bot Brian Molko was amusing in small doses (the whole thing about getting London journalists thinking he might be a laydee, and being successful in some cases, was definitely quite a ripping yarn), but after a while it all got a bit tedious. “A friend with breasts and all the rest” indeed. Plus, I had the misfortune of seeing them live in Zurich some years back, and this counts as the second worst gig I can remember.

But I started this blog to be nice about bands, not to slag them off. Lots of people like Placebo, and who am I to criticise their tastes? On that note I decided to listen to a couple of tunes from their debut, which I’d loved when it came out, in those heady heady mid-’90’s days of Britpop and Camden and spending my days driving round the country to visit pubs to tell them what music to play (seriously). Guess what, dear reader? Yep, some of their early stuff is good. Not superb, not marvellous, but still, pretty good.

“36 Degrees” sounds like The Undertones gone crazy with PCP and Motorhead, though the chorus of “Someone tried to do me ache” is the most clumsy thing I’ve heard for many a year:

“Nancy Boy” takes their Therapy? and Smashing Pumpkins love to new heights, and both “Bruise Pristine” and “Come Home” thunder around like a Velociraptor that’s been told that no, it can’t wear that ripped shirt to Granny’s birthday party, and what have you done to your hair, tidy yourself up, lad, before running back upstairs to its bedroom to sulk a bit more.

Yep, the whole I’ve-done-drugs-and-felt-a-girls-naughty-bits-and-now-I’m-sad schtick does wear somewhat thin over the course of an album, but this is a band that got it completely right the first time round and then it was all downhill (apart from “Brick Shithouse”, of course). The energy, the superb drumming, the sheer velocity of these songs keeps them from sounding that dated. They definitely sound better than most other songs of their era, I’ll say that for nothing. Go on, go and listen to some Verve songs. Quelle drear.

So let’s raise a glass filled with absinthe to little Brian Molko and his chums, for making a record which sounds suprisingly good many years later, then let’s go and do some drugs, pick up some questionable ladies-who-may-be-men, have our hearts broken, get all moany, sing loudly about being moany, then do some speed. Bonzer! Isn’t being a teenager great?

(Note: I would happily post one of these songs, but I noticed on Hype Machine that anyone who has posted them before hasn’t got them up any more. This is normally a sign of a very heavy-handed record label or publisher, and frankly, I’ve had enough of that shit before. So here’s “Pure Morning”, even though it’s not the song I like. C’est la new world of the Internet. If only Placebo would use Soundcloud, eh, lads?)

MP3: Pure Morning by Placebo

Placebo by Placebo (It’s The One To Get)