Placebo B3 EP cover B3 by Placebo

Returning with five-track EP, B3 (their first release of new material since 2009 LP, Battle For the Sun), Placebo offers fans what we love: A surprise gift to tide us over while we wait for the UK alt-rock trio’s 7th studio album to arrive in Spring 2013.

Surprise gift or not, truth be told, there aren’t any surprises on B3, which will be good news for some; but for me, the group saying that this EP shouldn’t be considered a preview of their upcoming studio album was even better news.

That’s not to say that there’s really anything wrong about this collection. Fans will hear the trademark vocals and angst-fueled lyrics of front man Brian Molko (vocals, guitar) at the forefront of each track, with each following a tried-and-true, basic rock structure complete with buildups — and well-placed breakdowns.

Launching the collection off on a strong note is title track, B3, well-balanced with a nice head of vocals. I Know You Want to Stop surges forward, halting abruptly and repeating the same riffs—clearly matching the theme of its lyrics with the inability to fully stop. (I was happy to note that the group didn’t throw in the cliché hard stop when Molko says “stop”…until the end).

Unfortunately, the lyrics of Time Is Money does come across as overly cliché, throwing in mentions of money, war, fear, love and, of course, Jesus. After seven minutes of this, I became tired and annoyed with the same old–same old angsty rock lyrics. Notably though, The Extra is the most heavily-produced track on the EP, so its a welcome stand out. It’s heavy on the bass (Stefan Olsdal), and showcases acoustic guitar and clinking piano notes. Finally, the drums (Steve Forrest) drive from start to finish in I.K.W.Y.L. (“I know where you live”).

Consider B3 to be an early holiday gift to you from Placebo, reminding you of why you fell in love with them in the first place, why you’re still a devotee, and why you’re awaiting their upcoming full-length album in breathless anticipation. It will be interesting to hear if the group’s 7th album sets itself apart from their other works. (I’m crossing my fingers for something they haven’t tried before, though still, of course, in that distinct Placebo-y vein).

B3 was released in digital format October 12 via Mercury Records UK and will be available in a limited edition CD format tomorrow (November 6) via Universal/UMe.


By Erin Torrance, a recent Publishing graduate venturing into the world of music. Erin lives in a flea-market chic apartment in Toronto with the love of her life and best friend — her cat Bea.

pixel B3 by Placebo