Sunday, December 7, 2008


Portishead's new album, Third, has appeared out of the void. Their debut, Dummy, was released in 1994, in trip-hop's birthing era - and their self-titled sophomore set came out in '97. It's been over a decade since we've heard a new siren song waver out of Beth Gibbons' mouth, and I can't say I ever expected to hear one. But this album is very very good. The lyrics remain brooding, gothic, and dark but I'm not sure if many people listen to Portishead for insight or advice.

I'd like to laugh at what you said
but I just can't find a smile
I wonder why you can't
I struggle with myself
hoping I might change a little
hoping that I might be someone I wanna be

Really? Are we reading Twilight or something? But there's clearly some musical experimentation and diversity here. "Hunter" and "Deep Water" are ghost-tracks from the 1930's, "Small" is psychadelic '60's, "The Rip" is old-school Leonard Cohen, "We Carry On" drones like the soundtrack to a Lovecraftian ritual, and "Machine Gun" is KMFDM industrial-lite - none of which are necessarily "music to make love to your old lady by." Those juvenile lyrics don't sound so silly because Portishead music is witchcraft and chaos, sensuality in the abyss. If you're curious and want to sample a single track, start with "Magic Doors," appropriately named.


01. Silence
02. Hunter
03. Nylon Smile
04. The Rip
05. Plastic
06. We Carry On
07. Deep Water
08. Machine Gun
09. Small
10. Magic Doors
11. Threads

(worth staring at)

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