Release date: March 2003
Sleeping with Ghosts is the fourth album released by English alternative rock band Placebo in 2003. It achieved chart success in the UK, Australia and Europe. This album has been released with the Copy Control protection system in some regions.
The album has several songs based on a theme of relationships, whether as in relationships that end badly as in "The Bitter End", power struggles in relationships ("Special Needs") or the idea that some are meant to be eternal soulmates (the title track). Singer-lyricist Brian Molko told Kerrang! magazine that he was trying to 'exorcise' the 'ghosts' of the past: "I'm looking back to what's happened in my past emotional decade, trying to understand it. Trying to exorcise the ghosts and the demons of relationships past. It's the old cliché of it being therapeutic but it does work for me in that way."
Another interview has Molko explaining: "The album title's about carrying the ghosts of your relationships with you, to the point where sometimes a smell or a situation or an item of clothing they bought brings a person back. For me it's about the relationship that you have with your memories. They inhabit your dreams sometimes. There can be a lot in the future that's gonna remind you of the ghost of relationships past. So I see the album as a collection of short stories about a handful of relationships. Most of them mine. In a way writing the songs helps me to get a lot of the nasty feelings off my chest and put them in a box, and therefore have a bit more of an objective discourse with those emotions because you've done something positive with them, you've rid yourself of them."
During their concert in Sofia on 12 September 2003, the band dedicated the song "Centrefolds" to Johnny Cash who had died the same day, with Molko citing Cash as a key influence on the band.
Molko, who is known to favor Sonic Youth, was notably influenced by the album Sister while writing the lyrics for Sleeping with Ghosts; at least two of the songs – "Sleeping with Ghosts" and "Plasticine" – feature reference to Sister lyrics.
Sleeping with Ghosts reached the top 20 in the UK, top 40 in Australia and sold well throughout Europe. The first single "The Bitter End" reached number one in Portugal, went top ten in Greece and made the top twenty in the UK and Italy in early 2003. Second single "This Picture" went top ten in Portugal and top 40 in the UK and Spain in June 2003. "Special Needs" made the UK top 40 in September 2003. In 2004, "English Summer Rain" made the top 40 charts in the UK and Spain while "Protège-Moi" made the French charts. In the US, "Sleeping with Ghosts" reached top twenty on the Heatseeker charts in 2003.