While musicians are constantly trying to innovate in unique ways, it’s almost as if the same methodology behind the innovation is being repeated ad nauseam for each particular genre. This makes it increasingly harder to find those artists that are truly innovating, and not just hopping on board the next wave as popularity shifts from one angle to the next. Standing out is what is required in this day as music is at the literal fingerprints of everyone and unless the sound is well crafted and executed, why waste your time when there’s much more that can be heard? It feels like this is what Columbus, Ohio natives The New Age had in mind when they started out as a band as they’ve always had a refreshing and captivating sound that can’t really be shoehorned into a certain box or replicated with ease by others. Putting it bluntly, The New Age aren’t here to sound like anyone else or replicate a sound and instead have paved the way for something truly special with their much anticipated and long awaited debut album, Placebo.
Overall, Placebo is a truly unique listen through the 12 tracks that make up the album. Songs vary greatly on the genre spectrum, but truly fit together as the base sound relies on a combination of technical instrumentation, piano accompaniment and crooning choruses. It’s much harder to describe and something that honestly needs to be heard to really pick up on the different aspects that The New Age combine to create their final sound. In regards to the sound itself, it leans much more on the melodic side with stylistic choices to expound the sound even further, from the spoken word-like moments to the brief moments where the band ramps it up a tad, dipping their toes ever so slightly in the heavier realm. It’s a full fledged departure from what their EP Think Too Much, Feel Too Little gave off, but after such a long hiatus between releases it should be expected. That said, it should still easily feel familiar for fans of the band.
The biggest thing that stands out on the album is the technicality and the piano arrangements that are fused with a very jazz-driven undertone. This carries throughout the entirety of Placebo as the riffs present a rather unique, soothing sound punctuated by heavy, rhythmic bass lines and beautifully crafted piano arrangements. Couple that with the electronic elements that are added in a subtle, but worthwhile way that helps carve each songs own identity out, and once again the idea of a varied, yet consistent flowing album is brought up. In addition to the meticulous detail given to the underlying instrumentation, the vocal delivery changes to fit the tone of the music rather than vice versa. It’s simply another notch in the uniqueness that The New Age bring to the stage and one that ultimately suits them extremely well.
Whether it’s the catchy synths on “Temper” or the beautiful piano accompaniment on “Straight Face”, The New Age provides plenty to love about each song that makes up Placebo. The outcome is something that many probably weren’t expecting as directionally, it’s quite different than modern day post hardcore and their previous releases, but that’s what makes them so special. Placebo is not only surprisingly unique, but engaging, emotional and technical. As you listen to the album, you’ll find it hard to listen to anything else, making this an extremely early contender for one of the best releases of the year.