With a name that sounds like it was taken directly from a 60s Soviet science fiction epic, Battle For The Sun marks Placebo’s sixth studio album. It is also their first album (to date) to feature a remarkable sense of optimism — something that Placebo frontman Brian Molko himself refers to as “stepping out of the darkness and into the light.”
To accomplish that sort of a thing, however, required changes for Placebo. First in the personnel department. Gone is drummer Steve Hewitt, who left the group following the 2006 Meds Tour, citing personal issues. In his place on Battle For The Sun is 22-year-old Californian stick-banger Steve Forrest (hey, they’re both Steves — that counts for something, right?). Another change occurred on the other side of the recording booth, with producer Dave Bottrill (whose many past works included Tool) and mix-meister Alan Moulder.
But the major change came with Battle For The Sun’s music and lyrics. The moody poetic sounds of self-medicated androgyny are not the dominating factor on this album. As a matter of fact, they’re downright absent at times. In all honesty, Battle For The Sun is the first time I’ve ever listened to Placebo without finding myself extremely depressed afterward — and for a manic depressive like me, that’s always a good thing.
Parting ways with Virgin Records, their usual global big-wig record logo, Placebo opted to license and distribute Battle For The Sun on their own. For its American release, Battle For The Sun finds its way to fans and haters alike via Vagrant Records. Out of all of the album’s 13 tracks, I found some of the more memorable highlights to be “Speak In Tongues,” “Ashtray Heart,” and “Devils In The Details.”
Many of their devoted followers may not appreciate the “sunny” turn (ta-dum) the group has taken with this venture. Personally, I feel that Battle For The Sun is a great album and quite unlike their past work. It is a much-needed change of pace for Placebo and, hopefully, will lead to a new life for them.