Portishead is back with their heaviest, darkest album yet.
Widely credited for bringing trip-hop to the mainstream with their 1994 debut Dummy and 1997’s self-titled follow-up, it
took more than a decade for their aptly titled Third to surface. Maybe you thought the UK trio was gone for good; turns
out they were just digging deeper into their brooding, moody mindset.
The music still has a film score quality to it, but one shot
in grainy black and white with lots of shadows and no resolution, just
disturbing questions. These tracks are built more naturally, with quicker
tempos and more guitars than in the past, but they still feature lots of minor-keys
brushing up against Beth Gibbons’ heavenly, even alien-esque vocals to create
amazing contrast. There’s very little light cracking through Geoff Barrow’s
beats, but Gibbons does usher in a peaceful reprise with “Deep Water” where
she’s backed by a single ukulele. From there we have the industrial, electro
percussion of “Machine Gun” that’s enough to make Aphex Twin blush, and the
disc-closing “Threads,” with its thick, opiated rhythms barely supporting
Gibbons’ lament of “I’m always so unsure.” It may have taken eleven years but
you can’t rush the kind of genius we find on Third.
Standout Tracks: “We
Carry On,” “Threads” AARON KAYCE