Sleeping With Ghosts

Rock Sound, Apr'03

Sleeping With Ghosts  8 out of 10

by Pierre Perrone

Many songwriters can't remember whether their fucked-up relationships are the result of their peripatetic lifestyle or a deliberate bid to fuel inspiration. Of course, Placebo mainman Brian Molko comes up with an unexpected twist on the rock star predicament since he swings both ways and delves deeper than most. 'Sleeping With Ghosts', the trio's fourth album, is ostensibly about past relationships that linger in the memory. The huge riff of the instrumental opener 'Bulletproof Cupid' and the lyrics of 'English Summer Rain'--"always stays the same, nothing ever changes" bleats the singer--don't bode too well, but by the heady and angsty 'This Picture', the listener is falling under the spell. The sublime title track and the haunting 'Special Needs' confirm that Placebo made the right decision to bring producer Jim Abiss (UNKLE, DJ Shadow) to further explore the hypnotic direction already latent in some of their remixes, while the kick-ass romp of 'The Bitter End' and 'Second Sight' reinforce their status as purveyors of pure indie pop in the vein of The Smiths. Molko could have become a gender-bender Kurt Cobain but, rather than feeling sorry for himself, he draws on past mistakes--the utter devotion of 'I'll Be Yours'--to provide advice--"Don't forget to be the way you are" he sings in 'Plasticine'--and inspiration. Positively searing.