Mr. Love & Justice,
(Vanity, 2004)

Mr. Love & Justice present Homeground with the inviting sound of 1960s British pop, with catchy hooks, a friendly competition between vocals and guitar, and playful, candy-sweet lyrics that happen to have a razor waiting in the center.

The initial taste of that sharpness, in the deceptively innocent "Welcome to Our Garden," cuts deeply. The rest of the album can't pack as much surprise, but vocalist Steve Cox sounds so innocent, Chris Anniss and Nick Ruddle keep their percussion so mellow, that the sharp edge of the lyrics manages to find an unprotected spot every time. Only Andy Jones' bass and Marcus de Freitas' guitar issue give reminders of the danger, with a constant growl hiding in the otherwise gentle instrumentals as they wind along "The Road" or let time drift "Watching Water."

That unpredictable edge gives Homeground more power and deeper effect than its early pop sound would otherwise allow. An easygoing album that refuses to fade into the background, Homeground has dark appeal for the nostalgic and the cutting edge alike.

by Sarah Meador
26 November 2005

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