Longstanding fans of Britain's avant-garde reggae label On-U Sound will recognize the New Age Steppers' name from the '80s, when the label was new and so was Ari Up, the lead singer for the Slits and a maniacal reggae fan. She had met labelhead and producer Adrian Sherwood a couple of years earlier and made a few recordings with him. Some were originals, others were roots reggae classics like "Fade Away," which she sang in her trademarked psychotic warble-and-shriek style. Eventually they had enough for an album which was released under the name New Age Steppers; several others would follow, some but not all of them featuring Up as lead singer. Up and Sherwood sporadically remained in contact over the following decades, and began recording together again shortly before she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. By the time of her death in 2010, they had put together enough material for a new album, which was released in early 2012. Unfortunately, it has to be said that Love Forever is something of a mess -- not a completely unattractive one by any means, but compared to the wild-eyed dancehall punk of 2005's Dread More Dan Dead, the music here feels less focused and only about half of it is truly compelling. High points include the spitting "My Nerves" and the apocalyptic jump-up reggae of "Revelation"; the keening dancehall bounce of "Conquer" is also excellent. On the more dreary side are the overlong "The Last Times" and the silly "Scheisse Song." Hardcore fans and completists will want to check this one out, but those whose interest is more casual should probably start with the New Age Steppers' brilliant eponymous debut and the very fine Action Battlefield.
AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson