Home Read Classic Album Review: Placebo | Sleeping With Ghosts

Classic Album Review: Placebo | Sleeping With Ghosts

The overlooked British alt-rock trio drop one of their smartest & most mature LPs.


This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


“Always stays the same, nothing ever changes,” complains Brian Molko on his band’s fourth album. He’s bitching about English Summer Rain, but he might as well be on about Placebo’s status (or lack thereof) in North America.

After nearly a decade in the trenches and three critically lauded albums driven by crunching glam-rock, post-grunge guitars and Molko’s nasal, androgynous tones, this British trio still can’t catch a break. Sleeping With Ghosts, I am sorry to say, doesn’t have a ghost of a chance of snapping that unlucky streak. Which is not to say it’s a dud. Far from it, in fact — these dozen cuts may be the group’s smartest, most mature and honest effort yet. Trading glam for gloom, Molko and co. forsake most of the slamming decadence and hissy-fit fury of their earlier efforts for more emotive, downbeat and sensual cuts driven by gently glowing guitar licks and swirly textures. Even upbeat chuggers like The Bitter End, Second Sight and Plasticine seem more restrained and less frenzied than older hits such as Nancy Boy. The explanation is a simple one: “I can’t stop growing old,” Molko admits. If I didn’t know better, I’d say he sounds like a man who’s ready to give up the ghost.


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