Dance stalwarts Faithless are set to touch down in Australia in the coming months, so it seems appropriate that they’re paving the way with the re-release of their album – The Dance (released in May) – in a special two disc effort called The Dance Never Ends . It’s a significant record for Sister Bliss, Maxi Jazz and co; it is their first to be released on their own label, Nate Tunes, the group’s first album in four years (since the slightly lacklustre To All New Arrivals in 2006), and one which is backed by a lot of big name dance producers and remixers, among them Armin van Buuren, Tiesto, Eric Prydz, and Crookers.
Faithless have already proved themselves with dance floor anthems like “Insomnia”, “God is a DJ” and “We Come 1”, all of which were instrumental in helping them carve out their own niche in the dance scene. What set them apart from their peers – artists like Chemical Brothers, Groove Armada, and The Prodigy – was their unique blending of genres: the dark, sparse sounds of trip hop mixed with the uplifting melodies and bravado of big room trance.
Faithless have… well, faithfully kept the core elements of their sound across their six albums. But while The Dance may be, as the band themselves have described it, their “danciest” album yet, it is also not as hard hitting. This isn’t to say it is bad – because it’s not – just suggests that there’s no room left for surprises. Leading single “Not Going Home” features the signature haunting, monotonic vocals of Maxi Jazz alongside some blissful synth melodies and simple electronica bass lines. It’s well crafted and slick, but for Faithless it leans a little towards the generic; “Tweak Your Nipple”’s twisted, dark melody line might have been a better and more memorable leading single. Still, they prove once again that they’re adept at crossing genres, and they deliver another superb reggae-flavoured song with “Crazy Bal’heads”, and honorary Faithless member Dido once again makes a welcome appearance, lending her vocals to two of the album’s sweetest tracks, “North Star” and “Feelin Good”.
The remix disc boosts the album’s credibility, with some noteworthy reworkings of the songs. It’s hard to decide whether the more house-oriented remix by Eric Prydz or Armin van Buuren’s progressive trance mix is the better version of “Not Going Home”, and Kyau and Albert’s more vocal-trance heavy mix of “Feelin Good” truly highlights how adept Faithless are at genre crossover. One of the more interesting inclusions to the remix flipside is Aussie lads The Temper Trap, who give “Comin Round” a gorgeously light, Postal Service touch.
Its clear that Faithless still have a steady command over their sound, but while overall The Dance Never Ends hits all the right marks, it just doesn’t do it convincingly as they once did.
Review Score: 6.5/10