Marianne Faithfull Before the Poison

This sounds a lot better on paper than it does on CD. Sure, why wouldn’t PJ Harvey and Nick Cave — the high priest and priestess of gloomy modern torch songs — be perfect for this grand olde dame of been-there-done-that? Harvey co-writes and performs on half of these ten songs, while Cave tackles three; both artists’ bands provide backing throughout. Yet Harvey just released her first album in eons that contains filler, and Cave unleashed a double album with some slack on it as well — and their songs here sound like b-sides they couldn’t be bothered with themselves. Faithfull steps in to write lyrics, but she clearly wasn’t in charge of the melody; some of these songs are beyond her guttural range, and the more rockist tracks with Harvey’s band sound woefully out of place. Strange, isn’t it, that her other recent collaborators — Beck, Billy Corgan, Jarvis Cocker and Daniel Lanois — appeared to be oil and water, but ended up serving her much better material and context than this tired outing. (Anti)