You may recognize Marianne Faithfull as God. Her “This Wheel’s on Fire” became the anthem for the live-fast-and-should-be-dead-by-now lifestyle of Patsy and Edina. On “Absolutely Fabulous,” Faithfull appeared before a desperately dieting Edina in an attempt to coax the doomed midlife hipster into reexamining her values and priorities. Kissin Time resumes Faithfull’s image as a hard-living and disaffected femme fatale and explores life after youth with songs that are dark, sad and ironic. Faithfull’s increasingly limited range and gravelly voice carries the exhaustion and retrospect of a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.
Faithfull shares writing credits with Billy Corgan, Beck and Blur. While there are several writing credits on the album, the songs all carry the same mood, and are well suited for Faithfull’s distinctive growl – which aren’t dressed up in post-production. Her heavy, earthy vocal tracks contrast with the often light and poppy electronic music. No guitars were strummed in the making of this album, and some of the beats and synth effects sound like they could come from Depeche Mode b-sides. Faithfull gets to flash some unrepentant attitude: “Sliding Though Life on Charm,” could act as the companion to “ThisWheel’s on Fire.” While “Wheel” represented a life totally unexamined, “Sliding” is a critical exploration of self: “If Marianne was born a man, she’d show you all a way to piss your life against the wall.”
This album manages to be introspective without nostalgia or self-pity. It is realistic and truthful. Faithfull’s former screw, Mick Jagger, and the rest of the Stones are embarking on a pathetic tour and album, accompanied by a legion of musicians to compensate for their withering ability. Faithfull acts her age without losing her edge. She ends the album with a sarcastic cover of a now all-too-familiar movie soundtrack staple. This rendition of “Something Good” reminds me of Lunchlady Doris singing “Summer Lovin.'”
[Cara Jennison can’t smoke as many cigarettes as Marianne Faithfull]