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Glammy, druggy, androgynous: the guitar-hefting trio Placebo has rarely left its aesthetic cornerstones vague. With a title like Meds, they've no intention of doing so in 2006. "Baby, did you forget to take your meds?" is the opening chorus, sung with an endearing, scared soft-wrap by the Kills' Alison Mosshart – perhaps an ironically simple little question given singer Brian Molko's oft-declared dope fascination. Following the band's 2004 hits collection, Once More with Feeling – which closed with the lean "Twenty Years," the then-new and brilliant single – Meds strips Placebo down anew, focusing on guitars, Molko's high-pitched vocals, Stefan Olsdal’s bounding bass, and drummer Steve Hewitt’s determined, hard-hitting thwack. Having toyed with electronics and, famously, hooking up with David Bowie (among other luminaries), Placebo here presents gems like "Broken Promise," with its piano-tinted, haunted guest vocal from Michael Stipe that foreshadows a g! uitar-blasting thunderstorm. It drives the mind again to ponder: With their records selling more than 6 million copies globally, how come Placebo isn't a massively "it" band in the U.S.? It's this country's loss. --Andrew Bartlett