Diehards will once again fall at the feet of their guyliner saviours, but Placebo have ultimately given us an album that is all bark and no bite.

It’s ten years since Placebo released Sleeping With Ghosts – and, one might argue, ten years since the prospect of a new Placebo album has been something to get excited over. The material released in the interim has ranged from patchy (2006’s Meds) to flat-out uninspired (2009’s Battle For The Sun), seeing the band devolve from iconic and angsty to tepid and tentative.

Loud Like Love, the band’s seventh LP overall, does little to slow this decline. At times on this album, it truly feels as though one is playing a game of Placebo bingo – and winning, too. Piano-driven, mid-tempo balladry? ‘A Million Little Pieces’ has you covered. Big chorus and sexually ambiguous lyrics? Tick off ‘Too Many Friends’. Overwrought animosity over a relationship? Too easy – ‘Exit Wounds’ takes care of it, complete with the cringe-worthy melodrama of the final line, “Put me in the ground!

This feels more like a collection of B-sides than a cohesive album, never quite figuring out exactly what it wants to say, let alone how it wants to say it. Not all is lost, however: the album’s top and tail make for a brief respite from the band’s meandering. The title track offers some gorgeous guitar tone and some of Brian Molko’s best vocal delivery; while finale ‘Bosco’ is a touching slow-burner that’s as honest and warm as anything from their earlier work.

2.5/5 stars

BY DAVID JAMES YOUNG

Loud Like Love is out now through Caroline/Universal.

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