With 2004's release of Placebo's singles collection, the band reaffirmed that it has never quite fit into any particular fad. Their success has been gradual in the sense that their style and sound have progressed naturally with each album. Meds builds upon that notion while also embarking on a new phase for Placebo. Meds is their second coming. Frontman Brian Molko is no longer the glam-chic, gender-bending firestarter he once was. His songs are still angry and twisted in self-reflection and social rejection. Meds doesn't contain the rush to experiment like their previous records do. It's as bare and honest as Placebo have ever been, thanks to French producer Dimitri Tikovoi's straightforward approach in getting the band to make a bona fide rock record. There's a fresh vulnerability here and a sense of danger, too; the album's title track quickly enters this sphere. It's an obsessive moment confronting the social hypnosis and dependence of medication. The Kills' Alison Mosshart lends an anxious vocal backdrop as Placebo deliver an aggressive guitar-driven assault. Meds doesn't stop for breath until its end. Fans should be pleased with the menacing "Infra-Red" and the sexy ensnaring of "One of a Kind," two tracks that showcase Placebo's signature fiery performance style. When they're not deconstructing social expectations, Placebo's storytelling is equally powerful on the more lilting tracks. The shifty slow burn of "Space Monkey" is an epic ballad for the band. Placebo step out of their skin here. A squall of fuzzed guitars, strings, and Molko's brooding vocals strike to knock down the celebrity pedestal that creates a false human image. "Broken Promise," a duet with Michael Stipe, takes similar shape as a dramatic tale of adultery unfolds into a dark, emotional storm. Letting go of toxic relationships on "Song to Say Goodbye," a melancholic closing to Meds, brings the album full circle. To some, Meds might come off as less interesting compared to the slickness of older tracks such as "Taste in Men" and "Every You Every Me." Some may be over Molko's constant analysis of sex, drugs, and desire. What you see is what you get with Placebo and, for the first time in a long time, that vision is clear.
AllMusic Review by MacKenzie Wilson