Shane MacGowan's potent appetite for alcohol was evident from the time the Pogues cut their first album, but by the time they got to work on Peace and Love in 1989, it was evident that he'd gone far past the point of enjoying a few pints (or many pints) and had sunk deep into drug and alcohol dependence. The Pogues were always far more than just MacGowan's backing band, but with the group's principal songwriter and lead singer frequently unable to rise to the occasion, the recording of Peace and Love became a trying experience, with the rest of the band often scrambling to take up the slack for their down-for-the-count frontman. Given the circumstances, the Pogues deliver with greater strength than one might expect on Peace and Love; while MacGowan's vocals are often mush-mouthed and his songwriting is markedly beneath his previous standards, Terry Woods contributes two terrific traditional-style numbers ("Young Ned of the Hill" and "Gartloney Rats"), Philip Chevron's "Lorelei" is a superb tale of lost love (he and Darryl Hunt also teamed up for a fine bit of Celtic-calypso fusion on "Blue Heaven"), and Jem Finer brought along a trio of strong originals. Musically, Peace and Love found the band stretching their boundaries, adding accents of film noir jazz on "Gridlock," rockabilly on "Cotton Fields," straight-ahead rock on "USA," and power pop on "Lorelei," though the group's highly recognizable Celtic-trad-on-steroids style is never far beneath the surface. Peace and Love isn't as good as the two Pogues albums that preceded it (which represent the finest work of their career), but it does make clear that MacGowan was hardly the only talented songwriter in the band -- though the fact that the set's most memorable songs were written by others did not bode well for the group's future.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming