Placebo by The New Age Album Review

We got the incredible opportunity to check out the upcoming highly anticipated album by Columbus, Ohio natives, The New Age a month early. I actually have been a long time listener of this band, and I’m so stoked to dig into this upcoming release. Check it out on February 23rd! Without further ado: here are my thoughts.

Wicked Friends has that classic emotive vibe that The New Age has mastered so well. The first two minutes of the album start off with a raging bass and piano line, which is soon married with highly melodic singing. The whole album has reminded me much of the newer I See Stars release which I also fell completely in love with. Two minutes in, we are reminded of just how brutal the band can be. The range of the vocalist really shines through right off the bat here. “But you are a victim of where you live, where you choose to fit in.” At 2:45 we are treated to a sweet synth sweep along with catchy vocal melodies and harmonies to close the track out and introduce us to the rest of the release.

Temper starts off heavy from the get go, and the added strings are a nice touch before this classic rock riff. This song has an entirely different feel while still meshing inside their aesthetic. Variance is awesome when done cohesively. I love the touch of keys behind this track, and the chorus is incredible. “You don’t always have to be on the rise,” brings in the chorus, which quickly fuses into this trippy and dissonant bridge. I was really hoping there would be some rap on this album, as I thought those elements were very tasteful in their previous material, so I was quite relieved to hear the spoken bit meshed with the chorus again to close out the track.

Straight Face starts off with a face melting orchestral explosion which ironically reminded me of Explosions In The Sky. I love the vocals for this intro especially. They are incredibly flexible and flowing. You can really feel the emotion in this piece, as the band speaks a lot to the substances we use to fill holes in our lives, and how those temporary fixes can often lead us to darker places.

Hunger starts off with the lyrics “Help me.” This album to me addresses many pleas for help – pleas that the music industry in particular tends to scream out in different ways. The lyrics in this piece especially appealed to me, so pay close attention when you listen as I think they are very artistically formed. The use of simplicity and space in this piece are arts that I feel sometimes get overlooked in today’s music. They add incredible emphasis to the message of the song,and contribute greatly to the feeling gifted to the listener. The lone piano note to finish the song adds incredible emphasis.

Back and Forth is an introspective piece. The feeling is almost that we are listening in on a conversation that Justin is having within himself. This song was reminiscent to me of pieces I’ve heard from rapper NF. “We had it better when we had our eyes closed.”

Upstairs if my favorite track on the album. “I remember being sick – about to die.” On Tuesday, I cracked this album open for my first listen through. When I got to this track, I received news that a friend of mine had committed suicide. Since then, I’ve listened to this song about fifty times, and the lyrics “Like there’s something going on upstairs – I can hear footsteps” still give me a haunting feeling when I hear them. To me, this song speaks to the internal struggles that many people deal with – struggles that the people surrounding them live completely unaware of. “Just rest your eyes, It’ll be alright.” These lyrics bring in a restful and tragic feeling as the orchestral backed piece begins to come to a close. “Just rest your eyes. It’ll be alright.”

Do We Dare feels hopeless. It speaks to the human condition – the elemental tendency to give up. “But life is your mother, and she hates you.” The song picks up about a minute in, which beckons a new tonality to the piece. “And do we dare say, what’s in our brains? You’ll never know now. You’ll never know now.” This feeling of isolation returns, which reminds me of yet again the internal darkness that so many people battle. “Do you think you’re better off on your own? Do you think you’re better off being a sickness into the ground?”

Wasting My Days starts off with a really syncopated piano and vocal duet, and I love the wiry and odd guitar leads which join the dance. This song had a Dance Gavin Dance vibe to me, along with (yes, everyone is thinking it) a 21 Pilots feel. This band manages to mold and combine so many great moods and styles into these pieces. This song keeps the mix interesting, and yet is still cohesive. Again, variance is awesome when done cohesively. The bass gets majorly slapped here, and then we are welcomed with opened arms back into the chorus again with that great, uncomfortable guitar lead that we can’t stop listening to. “Are we insignificant?”

Save Me is a solid track. Nothing in particular stood out to me, but it is catchy, has that melodic draw the band is known for, and it contains the progressive elements that long time fans have come to appreciate.

To Be Alive starts with an explosive entrance. This song had me jiving in no time, and it struck me as such a fun and upbeat piece. About a minute in, it changes rhythmically and then swiftly changes back offering great variance. There’s that wiry guitar tone again. I love that thing. This song really changes things up, and I found that to be beneficial especially given the track placement on the album as the tenth song. Things get a little more raw for the last minute of the song, as the whole album begins to come to a close.

Ah track eleven. You know this one, right? Garnering incredible support, Placebo is a total banger. This song shows off the entire dynamic of the band – it’s melodic, shows incredible vocal range, explosive instruments, and intrinsic musicianship. I also particularly love the rap in this piece, as it’s incredibly challenging and introspective.

Holes in the Walls is the final piece to this incredible album. I love the gritty bassline in this song, and then I fell in love with the overdriven guitar licks that followed. Then that electronic drum beat comes in, and that fits perfectly. I absolutely love this added aesthetic to the band’s sound. Everything clears, allowing piano to enter and making room for an emotional vocal performance. The two work in tandem before reintroducing screams and the full band. This time, with harmonies, everything dances around each other in perfect balance. Incredible musicianship.

This band always impresses me which each release. I think Placebo tops the whole chapter so far for me, and I would love to see The New Age support this album on tour with Citizen, Secret and Whisper, or I See Stars. The production is top notch as well, and I really enjoyed the mix. They’ve managed to achieve a top level emotional experience for the listener – the kind of experience that you won’t soon forget. I hope you pick up a copy of this album when it releases at the end of this month – I know I will. This is art.