New Placebo Single ‘Surrounded By Spies’ Lashes Out Against Our Modern Surveillance Society

No longer the debauched glampunk poet that first catapulted Placebo to considerable infamy, Brian Molko still deftly plays the poignant provocateur, as was certainly the case with recent single ‘Beautiful James,’ a masterstroke of cagey sexual ambiguity.

The band’s very anxiously awaited eighth album Never Let Me Go won’t arrive until spring of 2022 (March 25, specifically, via Rise Records). But they’re teasing it out again, this time with something decidedly more somber and sinister…though those are clearly both very familiar territories for Placebo. And to be sure, before their harrowingly titled new single ‘Surrounded by Spies’ even hits the minute mark, Molko launches into a mantra of, “This search for meaning is killing me,” and we’re quickly reminded that, no matter how much he appears to be fighting it at times, a hint of nihilism so reliably colors nearly everything he does.

But no panicky paranoid android he, as the song’s title is actually inspired by real events: “ I discovered my neighbors were spying on me on behalf of parties with a nefarious agenda. It’s a true story told through a lens of complete disgust for modern society’s values and the deification of surveillance capitalism.”

Musically, there’s something of the solemn, funereal march about it – though at around 2:35 it explodes into a kind of controlled chaos, with Molko endlessly repeating the title as if to emphasize its suffocating seriousness. Soon it’s all stripped down to a haunted, Satie-like piano, with an eventual eerie fade into the cryptic ether.

He decries, “[It’s about] the countless ways in which our privacy has been eroded and stolen since the introduction of worldwide CCTV cameras, that now employ racist facial recognition technologies. The rise of the internet and the [smartphone] has turned practically every user into spectators in their own lives.”

Obviously, trust no one.

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