Arista – 2001 –

North London's most elegant DJ duo, Rollo and Sister Bliss have returned again, and their smoky, sophisticated spin on dancefloor culture is still occasionally compelling, even if there is precious little sign of musical progression.

It's fair to say that Faithless have matured with their listeners, who are more likely to have mortgages than Mitsubishis on their minds these days. The sound of the build-up heavy rave monsters that Rollo used to release on his Cheeky Records label only survives on 'Outrospective' in the form of the occasional euphoric interlude.

The album works much better when Rollo & co. admit to being grown-ups and make soulful, downbeat coffee-table torch songs. The result is lush, melodic post-techno that is so laidback it barely registers on the Richter scale. Imagine Massive Attack, with a poppier sensibility and most importantly, a work ethic!

It's a stance that has alienated a lot of their original fan base (the ie-dance mailing list was humming with abuse for the band around the time of this album's release). The simple truth is that Faithless are not a dancefloor act anymore, and the best bits of 'Outrospective' reflect that.

Lyrically, 'Not Enuff Love' is a dodgy update of 'Another Day In Paradise', but its whispery raps and occasionally over-cooked vocals have a curious appeal. 'Muhammad Ali' is an engaging ode to the greatest fighter of all time over a note-perfect recreation of Curtis Mayfield's strings'n'guitars funk style. Heavy on atmosphere with a beautiful guitar line floating over stoner-paced beats, 'Evergreen' has a vocal that strays into treacherous Enya territory!

It's all inoffensive stuff and compares well to the hideous fall-off in quality in the late careers of Faithless' contemporaries (Tricky, Underworld, James Lavelle, I'm looking at you).

But is inoffensiveness really enough? Faithless need to do something drastic and unexpected to get a new lease of life. It sure as hell worked for Rollo's sister.

Luke McManus

Tracklisting: Donny X - Not Enuff Love - We Come 1 - Crazy English Summer - Muhammad Ali - Machines R Us - One Step Too Far – Tarantula - Giving Myself Away – Code – Evergreen - Liontamer