You can probably recall a song that, though it may be “old,” remains fresh, vibrant, and unmistakably alive. A song that brings you back to another place and time, gives you chills, lifts the hairs on your arms, and perks up your ears any time you hear it. For me, one of those such songs is Placebo’s ode to youth, confusion, and holding onto it all for dear life, “Teenage Angst”. I can listen to and enjoy it in any season, at any time of the day, regardless of mood, fullness of moon, or impending doom. I guess that’s what you’d call a classic song. I know it is for me, as I’m sure is the case for many others. Pretty special for a song that’s over 20 years old.
Placebo has tinkered with “Teenage Angst” to fantastic effect several times over the past 20 years. Such is the song’s magnificent malleability and the creativity of the band. Brian Molko, the song’s progenitor, recently said that, after 20 years of tinkering and reimagining, Placebo has finally found the perfect version of the seminal smash. He intimated that this new reimagining feels right, as if the song had been on a journey, a soul-searching sojourn in various chambers of the heart, and has finally found the beat that will sustain it, steady, serene and seared with sorrow.
The scary, beautiful, wonderful thing is, I agree with him completely. The tone, pace, and guitar work of the new version is perfect and sublime. To me, this is how “Teenage Angst” was always meant to sound. There is a devastating sadness here that previous iterations, although brilliant, frothing with fervour and manic (the original), and pretty, tender and despondent (the cabaret, Brixton version), have never touched on. Now, there’s a maturity in the melancholy, a sageness that pervades each note and nook, an acceptance of what’s happened before. All that came before what is now needed to happen. It’s a revelation, one of life’s most important lessons, learned, and now finally, thankfully, shared.
The journey has been long and arduous. Experimenting in details, ultimately, experience prevails. Many fluid gestures later, stepping back in time, to some place familiar, some place new, home.