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Friday, November 13, 1998 Published at 16:51 GMT

Entertainment: New Music Releases


Faithless (Cheeky Records)

The dance outfit's second album sees them voyage further into a land of dense, brooding soundscapes.

There's a darker pulse to the music and a renewed sense of menace in the delivery of Maxi Jazz, who brings a deft lyrical touch to some heavyweight subjects.

[ image: Darker follow-up to debut album Reverence]
Darker follow-up to debut album Reverence
Obsession, heartbreak and broken homes are all up for discussion, yet the overall effect is never too morbid or self-indulgent - thanks to the band's ability to switch pace whenever the atmosphere becomes too oppressive.

The lazy wash of The Garden gets things off to a leisurely start, but we're soon into darker territory with one of the album's standout tracks - Bring My Family Back.

Maxi brings an original slant to this tale of a broken marriage by viewing it from three different perspectives - the young child, the husband and the abandoned house itself, now transformed from a comfortable family home into a crack den.

Sensing that a little light relief might be in order after such a relentless tale of gloom, Jamie Catto takes over on lead vocals and the mood relaxes considerably for the gospel-tinged, optimistic Hour Of Need.

[ image: Sister Bliss: Obsession, heartbreak and broken homes]
Sister Bliss: Obsession, heartbreak and broken homes
Postcards, a vivid story of life on tour in America, is based around evocative chords lifted from a piece by French composer Erik Satie - and Boy George turns up in top torch-singing form on the excellent Why Go?

Each track melts neatly into the next, and if the second-half of the album doesn't quite match the first, it's barely noticeable in the overall picture - particularly in the light of the strong finish provided by the twitchy Killer's Lullaby.

A strong follow-up to the impressive debut Reverence, this album should firmly cement the band's growing global reputation.

Nigel Packer

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