Placebo

Meds (Astralwerks)

The pot-'n'-sex paean "Pure Morning" may have given British glam-rockers Placebo stateside recognition, and the irresistible single "Every You Every Me" might've found its way onto quite a few late-'90s mixtapes — but it's albums like Meds that give the trio its staying power. Anchored by the inimitable voice of gender-bending frontman Brian Molko, these thirteen tracks veer from ass-kicking guitar squalls (opener "Meds," which features the Kills' Alison Mosshart) to the sexy threats of "Infra-Red" to the broken-heart-dragged-across-broken-glass ballad "Follow the Cops Back Home." The affable Molko is in top form here, both vocally and lyrically; Meds is blessedly bereft of the heavy-handed, oh-poor-me laments that mar some of Placebo's earlier efforts. Particularly delicious is the Michael Stipe duet "Broken Promise," a song about adultery that begins with gentle piano and the R.E.M. frontman's soft, sweet crooning and explodes into Stipe and Molko singing/screaming, "I'll wait my turn/To tear inside you/Watch you burn." Yeah, androgyny never sounded so hot.
 
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