While I predominantly cover singles on here, I’ve always been an avid consumer of albums. More often than not, this results in some songs that I adore but others that I detest. As a remedy to this issue, we have Beast Sides! These songs put the Beast in B-side and are either stronger than their accompanying title track or songs that are just too solid to leave out.
Now this is a pairing I would never have imagined in my wildest dreams. But boy am I delighted it did. This is a match made in heaven and was one I didn’t even realise was a thing until my first run through Kenshi Yonezu’s lastest full album, ”Stray Sheep”. And while the album is full of standouts including its many singles (which I might get to soon), Placebo was the one song that I had to write about. Not only does it bring together two of my favourite voices from Japan. but it lays them over a glorious retro inspired backing to create pure pop magic.
Honestly with a vocal pairing this talented, Kenshi and Noda could have taken it easy and gone for some kind of sentimental ballad or mid-tempo just to appease the charts. And while that probably would have resulted in a solid song anyway, I’m so happy that they chose a more upbeat route.
Opening with a glorious extended build, Placebo launches into its delirious 80’s beat. That funky rythm guitar and synth driven instrumental is just so god damn joyous and feels so satisfying when it slams in after that extended intro. I’m sure Kenshi knows how great it is too and thus the instrumental in Placebo is given much more breathing space than usual. I love when artists respect the strength of their backing tracks and Kenshi is definitely one of those artists who does so on the regular. His voice doesn’t come in until almost 24 seconds in; which for a modern pop song is quite an achievement.
From here on, Kenshi’s chameleon like vocals are on full display as he wraps his voice around the buoyant instrumental. Placebo is one of the albums most upbeat and joyous moments and for an album filled with metaphors and emotionally resonant material, it’s quite a refreshing detour. This continues into the chorus which maintains its breezy, light momentum to create an effortlessly cool melody and refrain. This is also where Radwimps vocalist Yojiro Nada comes in. He’s one of the most emotive performers I’ve ever heard and even when he’s pumping out upbeat pop songs like this, his voice still manages to carry a surprising amount of heft.
The interplay between these two masters is just incredible and is a large part of why I feel Placebo works so well. At its core Placebo is simple little retro pop that could feel pretty disposable In the hands of many. But sometimes all you need is the right performer and you can turn something rather mundane into something special. Great stuff.
Final Rating: 9 / 10