Sleeping With Ghosts

Rolling Stone, May'03

Sleeping With Ghosts

3 stars out of 5 (good)

by Kirk Miller 

Glam-rock band wakes up from years of partying; the results are intriguing

After years of spreading glam-rock decadence, Placebo's Brian Molko has something to say: He's sorry. "Remember when we'd celebrate/We'd drink and get high until late/Now we're all alone," he whimpers during "Protect Me From What I Want." It's a gloomy piano ballad far removed from the U.K. group's glory days, when coke sniffing and golden showers constituted a "theme." When he's not looking for personal redemption, Molko uses Ghosts to rail against the outside world, attacking everything from cultural imperialism (on title track) to the evils of cosmetic surgery ("Plasticine"). In keeping with this downbeat vibe, the band nixes its Bowie and metal fixations, opting for skittering electronic beats, digitally manipulated guitars and a whole lotta reverb. It's a rare rocktronic mix that actually grooves, even if the ride can be a little jittery-- "Special Needs" skips between trip-hop, screeching feedback and Daft Punk disco without a clear destination. But it's already been a long, strange trip--give them time to find themselves.