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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 3 April 2017
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on 1 May 2017
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on 26 November 2015
I brought this specifically for one of Placebo's cover songs. It was worth it.
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on 5 April 2017
fast service, well packed, a great cd, many thanks
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on 10 May 2003
After three years, London-based rock trio Placebo has finally arrived with long-awaited fourth album, Sleeping with Ghosts. With their previous three records all hitting top 10 in the UK, the expectations for the new album are, to say the least, elevated. Then it is with no small amount of pleasure that many fans, after having heard the new tracks, pronounced Sleeping with Ghosts Placebo’s best album to date. I, for one, am inclined to agree.
Taking their cues from the likes of DJ Shadow this time around, Placebo cleverly sidestep the pitfalls that dance/electronica influences often represent, and manage to fuse these influences effortlessly with their unique style. The arrangement chosen to showcase the music has a lot to do with this – in general, odd-numbered tracks on the album lean toward their old, guitar-driven approach with trademark ‘insect buzz’ distortion and simple punky rhythms; whereas even-numbered tracks showcase their new direction, with a couple of quiet, piano-led tracks to close off.
The album opens with a sinister, frenzied instrumental reminiscent of the hidden track 'Evil Dildo' from second album Without You I’m Nothing, but as the record wears on, this quickly proves itself to be a red herring as to an indication of where the album is heading. Track 2, 'English Summer Rain', features vocalist Brian Molko on drums, providing a bouncy vibe and melodies you can’t help but sing along to. 'Special Needs' is another highlight in a similar style, with lines like ‘remember me / when every nose starts to bleed’ exemplifying Placebo’s usual lyrical perversity. How *very* Brian Molko.
'The Bitter End', the first single off the album, is typical Placebo, perhaps with a little more melody than previous material. This newfound love of tunes features throughout the record, with is all the better for it. Placebo’s old, arse-on-fire running-with-guitars style sits heavily on tracks such as 'Plasticine' and 'Second Sight', and 'This Picture' comes across like a close relative of 1998’s 'You Don’t Care About Us'.
The title track is more than a highlight. Upon the first few listens it is already elevated to a status equal to despondent Placebo classics such as 'Without You I’m Nothing' and 'My Sweet Prince'. Stealing a couple of lines from Les Misérables, this a heartbroken anthem backed by sparse electronica and a gorgeous tune. ‘Soulmates never die’, laments Molko in his remarkable helium-laced voice, bringing to the fore blatant emotional intensity and fierce love.
Musically, Sleeping with Ghosts is marvellous. The band has struck gold with the heady mix of electronica, their signature trashy lite-punk and Molko’s constantly above-par vocal performance. Though the words are competent enough, it doesn’t ever get back to the lyrical genius exemplified in early Placebo. But overall, that’s a small price to pay. This is a dazzling album, a must-have for every Placebo fan and many more people besides.
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VINE VOICEon 21 March 2003
Placebo have never been a band for major changes of direction, but Sleeping With Ghosts sees them consolidating strengths across the board and venturing into new, electronica-influenced territory. First single 'The Bitter End' is classic Placebo, recalling the punky immediacy of their first album, yet simultaneously mixing in some spooky piano and swirling harmonies that deepen the sound a bit. Opening instrumental 'Bulletproof Cupid' and 'Second Sight' both also follow the same tack, blistering along and ripping everything in their path to shreds.
Meanwhile, there's something new afoot on 'English Summer Rain', which schizophrenically leaps between a chorus that showcases a lush, rhythmic keyboard effect, a sleazy verse with almost funk-style bass and Molko dirtily beckoning 'I'm in the basement baby - drop on by', before entering an ending section that is scarily resemblent of Linkin Park, with its chant of 'Hold your breath and count to ten/Fall apart then start again' and a synth that sounds right out of 'In The End' or 'Crawling'. It should be horrific, but somehow they pull it off.
They've still got the power to be emotionally devastating, too. The acoustic-led title track is as beautiful and heartbreaking as anything they've ever done, right up there with 'Without You I'm Nothing' and 'Peeping Tom', yet its building sound and electronica drums and synths make it ever more wonderful that those two tracks, as Molko calls 'soulmate dry your eyes' in a moment where his vocals leave behind their sneer and just float over the canvas that his bandmates weave. Lyrically, it's a high point - along with 'Protect Me From What I Want', their third political lyric ('corporate America wakes/Coffee Republic in case') after trying the tactic on 'Spite and Malice' and 'Haemoglobin' off their last album.
Meanwhile 'This Picture' and 'Special Needs' see them create two of the best songs of their career. The former opens as urban cool, before exploding into a soaring, major-chord chorus with a bleeping arpeggio synth and a killer tune. The latter, too begins unremarkably, but when it explodes, it goes into a soundscape quite unlike anything before it, and its one to die for.
It doesn't all quite work. 'Something Rotten' attempts to experiment and create a disturbing, difficult, jagged track to reflect its lyric on abuse, but comes across simply as an unlistenable mess; while 'I'll Be Yours' just smacks of filler, evoking emotions that have been brought out better a million times before, not least by Placebo themselves. Final track 'Centrefolds' too, is something of a letdown, perfectly passable but not the emotional climax that we've come to expect from a Placebo closer, and 'Plasticine' is something of Placebo-by-numbers. Overall, though, its another winning album, which broadens out Placebo's sound and justifies their places in our hearts for a good while yet.
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on 2 April 2003
I've been an obsessional Placebo fan since the age of 14, and after hearing 'Sleeping With Ghosts', I am incredibly relieved to find that it stirs up the same melancholy and angst that I felt from their debut. SWG is definately a more mature album than the previous three, and I am not in the least surprised that many 'Without You I'm Nothing' devotees have been dissapointed by the move away from tortured lyrics and aching guitar sounds. There is an emphasis on melodic guitars which takes a lot of influence from bands like Joy Division and Nick Cave, and the use of electronic sound overlaying the persistant guitars is quite beautiful, if very different from the urgency of the past albums. Brian Molko's distinctive and haunting voice adds a very individual element to their sound, whether he is chanting over complex melodies, or singing urgently through the walls of melancholy sound.
'Sleeping With Ghosts' is not an album for people who are looking for a return to the spunk and glitter days of 'Placebo' or the heartbreak and desolation of 'Without You I'm Nothing'. Nor is it as cynical and morbid as Black Market Music. It is an intelligent, inspired album which would not be out of place alongside Joy Division's 'Substance' or Sonic Youth's 'Daydream Nation'. In years to come, I feel sure that this will be looked back upon as a classic.
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on 22 October 2003
One thing about living in a small town with only one wee record shop is that you'll occasionally buy something you might never have dreamt of buying in another situation - which is how I finished up with a copy of Ghosts and which is also why I immediately bought all the other Placebo stuff in the shop too. I was attracted mainly by the covers disc and it really is a wonderful mix - keen and crashing versions of thrilling songs - listen to Chilton's Holocaust - spinetingling. Only Big Mouth doesn't work vocally - the ghostly tone of Moz is just too strong. And the Placedo songs are excellent too - some of the best post-Smiths guitar smacking you'll ever hear - while that distinctive voice, half irritable sheep, half underfed Persian cat, really grows on you. The lyrics are inevitably the doomy decadent teenagey drug & disease stuff which old Brian is famous for & should be about to grow out of but there's wit as well and all in all this cd was an immensely pleasant surprise.
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on 21 May 2006
This is Placebo 4th studio album, released in 2003. I only began really paying attention to this album a few months back, as it always seemed to be the 'commercial' Placebo album, which is something I wanted to get away from. Having said that,I discovered some of my favourite Placebo tracks on Sleeping with ghosts. Here's a quick rundown:

1)Bulletproof Cupid- a great instrumental track, makes an explosive introduction to the album. 9/10

2)English Summer Rain- an example of Placebo's use of electronic sounds on the album. A catchy track, amazing when played live. Doesn't really hold the typical Placebo style, but still a decent song. 7/10

3)This Picture- One of the best songs off the album, and one of my favourite 'cebo songs of all time. It's catchy, melodic, and the lyrics are deeper than the first appear. This really is Placebo at their most poppy, but it's just amazing. 10/10

4)Sleeping with ghosts- another favourite placebo song, this has been retitled 'soulmates never die' in later performances. It's a slower, more haunting track with very political lyrics: 'what good's religion when it's each other we despise?' and epitomises what placebo set out to do; change the standards of music. An awesome song. 9/10

5)The bitter end- ok, so everyone's heard this at some point. It's infectious, raw, upbeat and brilliant. Even though it's commercial, it helped me get into placebo and discover their brilliance, so I gotta give it praise. If you ever get the chance to hear this live, take it...it's unbelievable. 10/10

6) Something rotten- the worst track on here. It's a series of a few lines repeated over a droning, monotone soundscape. Skip it, it's a let down for the album. 3/10

7)Plasticine- another great track. It's upbeat, catchy and shows placebo a little more mellow but still maintaining that edge that sets them apart. Definetely worth a listen. 8/10

8)Special needs- once again, everyone's heard this at some point. It's a very full, very epic song with a lot of raw emotion driving it. One of the best songs off the album, and probably one of their best releases to date. Pure perfection. 10/10

9)I'll be yours- Another slower track. It's a good song, with a simple guitar melody over a well-performed drum beat, but by this time I feel that the slows songs began dragging the album down. It may be a good song, but by this point it's wearing thin. 6/10

10)Second sight- bring on the dance-worthty tracks! This is a loud, upbeat, in-your-face song with a great placebo edge. It shows exactly what placebo have done, and shows signs of their earlier work. Another classic track. 9/10

11) Protect me from what I want- This is a great track, very slow and melodic with a stunning mix of guitars, drums and harmonica bringing the song together. I prefer it sung in French (Molko sounds amazing when he sings it), but still worth a listen. 8/10

12)Centrefolds- Heartwrenching, beautiful, pure. The song opens with a simple piano melody before breaking into Molko's sad, emotional singing. The piano melody sets this song apart from all the rest, and rightly so. It has made me cry on several occasions, an essential yet very often overlooked Placebo track.

So there you go, sleeping with ghosts, track-by-track. Overall, it's an amazing album, very different from Placebo's previous projects but an amazing album regardless. For new Placebo fans, this is a great introduction, as well as the amazing Without You I'm Nothing. Just buy this, it really is genius.
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on 18 March 2003
I agree to a certain extent with what these writers have noted. From the little I have heard of the new album, it is again a change. Placebo certainly seem reluctant to say the least, to settle on just one musical style, or even one instrument. their debut and WYIN were both huge hits with me and both full of life and vitality, even the sadder more emotionally draining songs. SWG is an interesting move for the band, with much lower inhibitions as far as experimental musical techniques are concerned. We need look only as far as 'Bitter End' to see that the range or amount of instruments os not huge but put to great use. I feel fondly f this new album and it marks a step forward for the three (or should I say five?) musketeers and wish them every fortune in the near future
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