Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Album Review - Portishead

Portishead – Third
[Island; 28/04/2008]

To say it’s been a while between drinks for Portishead could be the understatement of the century (it’s up to you, Axl!). We all know the effect that Dummy had on the world all those years ago, while Portishead’s sophomore self-titled affair also left many of their contemporaries in a sense of awe. So, a new era, a new sound and it’s no better place to unleash the beast that is Third.

Due to the band’s idleness with the music world for so long, Third could be described as something that’s gone full-circle. With Beth Gibbons leading from the front with her moody vocal splendor, this is the only trait that – at times - seems familiar with previous sounds we associate with the band, as the instrumentation drastically takes a more upbeat shift from time to time. ‘Silence’ begins with subtle guitar work and syncopated beats that starts off this diverse trend, however in saying that, ‘Hunter’ is more of what we’d expected from the trip-hop pioneers, with somber ripples of sound dictating proceedings.

The guitar twang through ‘Nylon Smile’ is a nice undercurrent for Gibbons to shed her vocal grandeur, while ‘We Carry On’ could pose as the busiest track on the album, led by a guitar riff almost hand picked by Bernard Sumner of his Joy Division days.

If anyone doubted Portishead’s so called “return”, then ‘Machine Gun’ is to prove the doubters wrong. With Geoff Barrow producing a swelling industrious loop that overshadows Gibbons’ vocals, it could rank as one of the best tracks the band has penned yet.

Some artists just have an edge that will always be with them no matter what, and Portishead are undoubtedly one of those acts. 11 years is too long in anyone’s book and to be honest, no one is worth waiting for in this amount of time. However, Portishead weren’t asking to be waited on. They’ve seen various music scenes come and go over the past 11 years, equally brushing it all aside and creating their own thing, equating with something worthy and once again groundbreaking.

By Smon K

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