I first got into Placebo in early 2001, at the time when 'Special K' was getting a lot of airtime on MTV 2. I'll try not to be biased even though I'm a die-hard fan (I own the limited editions of Black Market Music, Sleeping with Ghosts, Once More with Feeling and Meds; the 10th anniversary edition of the self-titled debut; the redux version of Battle for the Sun; the Battle for the Sun box-set; the complete EMI box-set; the B-Sides compilation; 2 live iTunes albums; the B3 EP; the Loud Like Love box-set purchased directly from Universal; and any tracks not featured in already mentioned on CD singles or as iTunes downloads; I've also seen them live).
This album, in a nutshell, is a grown man laying his heart bare. That's always been an aspect of Placebo's music, but 'Love' has never been so much at the forefront of the record in any of Placebo's previous material, nor in most music by anyone else (Leonard Cohen may be an exception).
Sometimes it's a hopeful love - like in the title track - sometimes it seems quite hopeless - like in the excellent 'Exit Wounds'. In either case it's sung about beautifully, Brian showing more maturity and even sensitivity than in any of the previous work.
The transformation from Nancy Boy of the 90s to introspective, broken-yet-warm-hearted grown man and father seems complete with this album.
The band do however, fortunately, still know how to rock out. Guitar sounds swirl back and forth, kicking in or jumping out with perfect timing, the album still has a great punk/grunge vibe, with some slower piano-led tracks mixing things up.
To summarize, if you've never liked Placebo so far, this album probably won't change your mind. For a newcomer, it's a pretty good place to start, and for the fan it's a no-brainer. Me, well I love it.