The B3 EP is the first original collection music released by Placebo since 2009 and, for many months, the band had their fans on tenterhooks. They stated on their Facebook page earlier his year that they had begun work on their 7th studio album but were hoping to release some songs before the year was out. B3 contains those songs.
What made Placebo great in the '90s was a sense of humour, albeit wallowing in the murky waters of post-punk, but their most famous songs 'Pure Morning', 'Every You and Every Me' and 'Nancy Boy' were quintessentially funny. Funny in the way that emo music is always funny. Classic lyrics like, "My hearts a tart, your body's rent" or "A friend with breasts and all the rest, A friend who's dressed in leather" are undeniably tongue in cheek. That seems to be what was lost on their last album, Battle for the Sun, which was, emphatically, not received well particularly by fans.
However, B3 seems be something of a return to form. Drawled lyrics of "A friend in need's a friend indeed, A friend with weed is better" defined the teenage experience of the late '90s and, 15 years on, fans are hitting middle age and wanting something more from their fave band which is difficult terrain to tread. Now, thematically at least, they're hitting that target.
While 'A friend with weed' used to be better, the concern this time around is that 'Time is Money'; a rule known by all middle-agers and rat-racers and also the title of one track from the EP which tells us, "Time is money, bastard". Simple, yet effective. The title track 'B3' is an eclectic mix of words brought together at worst, "Passionflower, Catherine wheel, Higher power, Help me heal", in fact seems to be a clever song about fears of masculine powerlessness.
Placebo's humour demarcates the seriousness of the subject matter, which likewise marks their place in the knolled niche that they've carved for themselves over the past 17 years. While 'Time is money, bastard' can't help but bring a wry chuckle, "War is money, bastard / 'Cause fear keeps knocking at your door" is a little too close to the bone for that. In their minor keys, distinctive riff style and lead singer Brian Molko's unique voice, Placebo can never sound like anyone else, which is great when they're not trying to. That was the downfall of their last album, but if B3 is simply a sample of what's on the way in their 7th studio album, it looks as though we're going to be in for a treat.
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