B3 is the perfect example of that point in a band’s life when they don’t break up or move on, and proceed to butcher their sound. What did Placebo do instead? They went to rehab, fired their drummer, and began to sing about “new tomorrows”. On the latest album from ’90s British rock band Placebo, frontman Brian Molko takes the listener into a world of self-contemplation and societal critique. Closely following the band’s previous album, Battle for the Sun, Molko embraces a newer “hipster” sound yet again. In the main title song, “B3”, the band uses a new hippy-inspired drone as Molko pleads with listeners to “help me start to heal”. Molko threw away a life of drugs and sex for a more controlled lifestyle, and likewise, B3 offers a brighter sound than Placebo’s grunge and glam roots. (Though he’s still proud of his androgyny, Molko pleads for MAC Cosmetics to sponsor him.) The second track, a cover of Minxus’ “I Know You Want to Stop”, is more like the old Placebo than the rest of B3 is. Bassist Stefan Olsdal outdoes himself, wielding his bass and his voice on the background vocals like weapons to knock out the listener. “The Extra” addresses the topic of control, with Molko asking the listeners to wonder who is in control of everything. “If I am an extra in the film of my own life, then who the hell is the director?” I don’t know, Brian Molko! Maybe it’s Quentin Tarantino? Or Diablo Cody? “I Know Where You Live” opens with a dance feel; this is the kind of song someone can move to, despite Molko’s melancholic tone. The band’s new drummer, Steve Forrest, shines with his club beat in the background, keeping the song upbeat and contrasting with Molko’s depressing,  brooding, self-contemplative lyrics. In the EP’s final song, “Time Is Money”, Molko sends us off with what sounds to me like a dark, quiet “fuck off”. On the topic of religion, Molko has said, “I’m very attracted to Buddhism because it’s not about some bearded guy in the sky telling you what to do; it’s about you.” But these lyrics definitely have something less straightforward going on. I am not entirely on board with this new, cheerful sound that Forrest has brought to the band, but I’m devoted to Brian Molko in everything he does. Molko and Osdal have the decency to incorporate a portion of their previous sound into this poppy, political, and personal EP, allowing listeners who prefer their former style to still enjoy it. MM