I remember a few months ago Eddie Carter described this act Placebo as a marmite band - the relationship with the music loving public they seem to have forged is that of love/hate in equal amounts. For me, they are listenable, so what exactly are my reservations with them? On the whole, probably not much and one thing Brian Molko and co. are NOT lacking is the edge that every rock band strives for. They carve their own unique sound with spiky guitaring and just some sprinkling of kudos in their keyboard backdrops and mixing.
I'll get straight onto their album, Sleeping With Ghosts, it's their fourth outing and as the title suggests, it deals with a few spectres in the closet, i.e. the failed relationships in the past and the unnerving willingness to confront the past failures with the mind to move on. First off, is the mini instrumental Bulletproof Cupid in which I enjoy very much the string and chord structure, it has a grungy feel and doesn't feel too much confined to the early 1990s. Mr Molko eventually gets vocals under way with English Summer Rain, it sounds beautifully put together, but for me, the wording is just too repetitive and were it not for the snippets in the backdrops I would find my attention waning soon. Some lyricism is improved in the next track This Picture and the title track runs of a similar theme, however these themes there have similarities to the order of the album.
In fact, all of the tracks have the same problem here. The lyrical content as a whole is not much of a muchness to me and it must be said that it comes close to ruining the whole album here. Something Rotten is a bit of an rambling song but never gets off the mark and the pace is too slow even with the electronic loops in the background. Plasticine sounds good but once again, the weak points are highlighted in Molko's choice of words and I feel his lyricisms have been rushed.
I'll Be Yours is a haunting ambient tune of guardian angel ideals while Second Sight returns to the unashamed frenetic punk pace with Molko keeping good discipline as ever in the sound quality. However, it's a bit of a strange ending to Sleeping With Ghosts with the piano led Centrefold. What can I say, it's a bit of a chilling ballad and it's as if time is standing still for a very long time and again, it's testing my attention span.
Without being too scathing on Placebo, composition wise they've just about hit the sweet spot, it's same old themes following on from previous records which are a bit of a letdown. It's a much easier going record than I was expecting, make no mistake, Brian Molko CAN write up well and he'll never sink as low as many UK retro bands do these days. Nancy Boy from his maiden album is one such example but if he just drew just a smidgen of inspiration from it, then Sleeping With Ghosts would've certainly won me over. Thankfully, the one saving grace it has is that it's not Covers.
5 out of ten. It could have been a bit better.
Click on this link for Placebo's Official Website