British Alternative Rock band Placebo dropped a new single, ‘Beautiful James’ on September 16, 2021. For 25 years, Placebo has admiringly written songs based on human existence, challenging the norms of society. In 1996, Placebo blew up amid the UK’s Britpop scene after the release of their debut album, “Placebo” career-defining single, ‘Nancy Boy’, and achieved platinum status. Two years later, Placebo released infamously hit singles, ‘Pure Morning’ and the iconic ‘Every You Every Me.’ The band’s sexually enigmatic musical style and dark glamour caught the eye of David Bowie, culminated in Placebo playing ‘20th Century Boy’ live with David Bowie at the BRIT Awards show in 1999.
In 2016, Placebo released ‘A Place for Us to Dream’, a compilation album celebrating 20 years in music. Five years later, Frontman Brian Molko and bassist-guitarist Stefan Olsdal remerge, ‘Beautiful James’, celebrating non-heronormative relationships and embracing gender fluidity. Molko’s distinctively high-pitched vocals set a nostalgic tone, “Take me by the hand /As we cross through battlefields /Nobody understands / ‘Cause there’s nobody at the wheel.” Guitarist Olsdal’s fervent riffing, steady pace drumming combine perfectly with modern synth-goth pop melodies.
‘Beautiful James’ is a masterful electronic rock anthem, reflects on personal levels of self-discovery. Through stages of insomnia, the writing process started with photographic imageries and inspired song title. “Everybody lies/ One hundred times a day/ The silence in your eyes/ Is far too rare to give away/ And it’s exactly why I stay.” Molko’s lyricism is more than a result of a personal statement. He serves as a protector of naive James and lending a hand to guide them to cruelties of the world.
In some ways, ‘Beautiful James’ allows listeners to narrate their version of the song and hold on to what it means to them. The band announced they finished their 8th studio album, and anticipation for new music will just have to wait. Till then, follow Placebo on Instagram and Twitter.