Faithless – Reverence (1995)

I can’t tell you how rare it is that I come across the perfect album, and I mean that in the sense of when on a record every single song is flawless; each piece contributing not only to the overall experience, but able to stand its own ground without just being needless filler. Faithless are not a band that I spin all that often anymore, but if I’m in the mood for this style of music, then I can accept no substitute.

Faithless is a bizarre multi-genre affair mixing the work of the DJ Sister Bliss, producer Rollo (who is Dido’s brother) and MC Maxi Jazz. What we get, on Reverence at least, is a strange hybrid of dance, pop and indie. On later records the band’s style would become more sparse and less dance-orientated, but Reverence is 90s Britain to the absolute max. The opening title track mixes lazy, smooth hip hop with throbbing techno, whilst “Salva Mea” is a trip in lush, lucid house; “If Lovin’ You Is Wrong” is a raunchy, jazzy, almost theatrical pop explosion, and “Dirty Old Man” plays on the tropes of dub reggae in the most subtle way.

On top of those you’ve got “Flowerstand Man” with Dido on the lead vocals, the life-lesson of “Baseball Cap” and the now legendary “Insomnia”, which catapulted Faithless to the top of the charts upon its release. The fact that “Insomnia” – probably one of the most memorable dance tunes of all time – is such a small part of this album really speaks volumes to the strength of the songwriting on display here. This nearly 9-minute epic is on the same record with ballads such as “Don’t Leave” and “Angeline”, which should be jarring and fractured, but somehow it all just flows perfectly. The audacity of it all, eh?

Irregardless of where Faithless went with their sound after this record, I am genuinely strugglingly to think of a stronger debut album from any artist, in any genre.