Marianne Faithfull collaborated splendidly with Beck and Billy Corgan last time out. This time she works with, among others, PJ Harvey and Nick Cave, who had a songwriting/production hand in eight of

Marianne Faithfull collaborated splendidly with Beck and Billy Corgan last time out. This time she works with, among others, PJ Harvey and Nick Cave, who had a songwriting/production hand in eight of the 10 cuts on Faithfull's new album. This winning collaborative combination makes "Before the Poison" even stronger than its 2002 predecessor, "Kissin' Time," but with production and arrangements that are minimalist, dark and desolate. Harvey's lead track "The Mystery of Love," nominally a love song, still sounds oppressively grim, while the title track hints at a cataclysmic personal event at the cause of her emotional descent. But while despair is the overriding tone—as signified in the cacophonous rap "Desperanto"—Faithfull always triumphs, in music if not in mood.—JB

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