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Music

Placebo - "Jesus' Son" (Singles Going Steady)

Placebo's new single is an anthem for living life and doing it without fear... maybe.

Adriane Pontecorvo: Spirited and soaring, Placebo's new single is an anthem for living life and doing it without fear. It's an especially relevant message for a fearful world, an ode to letting go of worry. Orchestral swells juxtaposed with raw, heart-on-sleeve lyrics make for a song both lofty and grounded, big enough that it can't help but be noticed and still universal in its message of hope. The feeling of freedom extends to the vivid imagery of the video: horses running, waves crashing, pagan warriors unfettered by modern society as they roam the streets of ancient Sardinian ruins. If you're looking for a moment of spiritual comfort in a chaotic year, Placebo's your band. [9/10]

Andrew Paschal: Placebo answer the call that comes to most aging and/or veteran rockers at some point or another -- particularly those who trafficked heavily in angst in their heyday -- to offer a retrospective song that demonstrates their triumph over adversity and heralds their arrival at some kind of inner peace after a tumultuous youth. While Brian Molko doesn't try to suggest that everything is perfect now, his core message here is "I'm okay", despite it all. This may well be a genuine sentiment, but it's hard to believe that it's the full story. Nobody ever fully "overcomes" adversity, after all: life is a constant series of new and familiar challenges, adversities that wax and wane until the end. While a narrative of progress and completion may be satisfying, it needlessly simplifies and flattens the emotional landscape of the song and makes for a pretty uninteresting listen. [5/10]

Max Totsky: Being someone who would typically reject Placebo’s radio friendly approach to alt-rock/nu-grunge, I can at least admire that fact that “Jesus’ Son” has a pretty sticky chorus, a quality that is emphasised when orchestration swells underneath it towards the end and the figurative lighters go up. And I mean apart from a fucking ridiculous video where a bunch of mask-wearing cult people chill on a beach with the band (white-on-white and acoustic guitars intact), there’s nothing terrible or all that boring about this particularly song. However, the washed-out corniness that usually plagues Placebo still stands. Case in point: “I am unashamed at getting nothing done / I'm a cavalcade that tumbles one by one / But I'm okay, just like Jesus' Son”. “Optimistic” and “life-affirming” indeed, but I’m still not sure how to take this band seriously. [6/10]

John Garratt: I'd like to open a new Olympic category for Bands Who Chose the Perfect Name for Themselves. Placebo would go home with at least a bronze. But when the soulless mash-up or indie rock and power pop has continued unchanged for at least 12 years running, then you can't fool most of the people most of the time anymore. [3/10]

Michael Pementel: There is no "placebo effect" in faking that this is a fun track. On a slightly heavier side of the indie rock spectrum, the instrumentals are strong with energy and impact, especially with some slamming drums. The guitars have a great high pitch which adds to the energy; not an electric high, but sort of that rainbow/bubblegum pop. Vocals fit great with the vibe, making them easy to follow and sing along too. For a band who has been around for 20 years, well... it is never too late to discover great jams. [9/10]

Christopher Laird: The song starts like we already know it, kicking in the door without even a knock. That helps the song's cause because it's obvious Placebo is shooting for the snarky, almost punky feel here. You can almost see the singer Brian Molko's the lip curling as he sings moody lines like, "Your laughter makes me cry. A speck of dust in my eye." The problem here is that it is unconvincing as a whole. It all smells of late '90s adult contemporary to me, edgy and as safe as the suburbs. [6/10]

Dan Kok: I don't know what it mean to be "ok just like Jesus' son", but honestly, the lyrics of this song seem to be entirely nonsensical as though singer Brian Molko has a bag of typical alt-rock lines that he pulls from blindly. Unfortunately the musical element is equally predictable and ultimately forgettable. The song is littered with Placebo-standard drumroll build-ups, rising synths, repeated choruses and a disappointing guitar interlude. Overall the group just isn't attempting anything particularly new or exciting this time around. [3/10]

Chris Ingalls: A new single from the upcoming Placebo two-disc compilation, "Jesus' Son" is seems to straddle the line between the contemporary, anthemic Brit-centric alternapop of Coldplay and the more sophisticated sounds of Pulp or James. The song is tough to get out of your head once it's there, surely the sign of a well-crafted song, but the overall vibe is a little bland. [6/10]

William Sutton: Enjoyable return from Placebo and a suitably anthemic single to be released in support of their career retrospective album out shortly. Driven by its soaring chorus and big budget video, "Jesus' Son" is not the darkest or even most creative of their work but a reminder of the power of this great British band. [7/10]

Scott Zuppardo: Retrospective alt-rock is alive and well, evidently. In some cases that’s a grand idea but here it’s more than half bad. Part of you wants to pull for the thing but then the strings come in and it’s “Bitter Sweet Symphony” revisited, yet contemptuously uninspired. One nascent voice infliction from Brian Molko and you’ll hate yourself for actually having your ears pierced back then, especially for wearing the silver balled loops. Cheers to 20 years and refusing to let '90s pop alt-rock die, as it well should. [3/10]

Paul Carr: Here, Placebo dial down the glam and swagger and aim for a more mature sound. The song builds on a prominent acoustic chord progression interspersed with keyboard atmospherics and thumping drums. Brian Molko seems more upbeat than usual and aims for a soaring, affirmative anthem. Unusually for them, it all comes across as a bit too nice. A bit middle of the road. Devoid of the usual provocative lyrics about the darker side of life, it just sounds a little tame. [6/10]

Placebo's A Place For Us to Dream releases October 7th.

SCORE: 5.73

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