Tuesday, December 23, 2008
The Best Albums Of 2008 #1
It took Bristol’s Portishead eleven years to release their third album, appropriately titled Third. They didn’t break up in the interim. This isn’t their big cash-in before a reunion tour. They just quietly did other things. Vocalist Beth Gibbons made an album with Paul Webb from Talk Talk (2003‘s Out Of Season). Geoff Barrow and Adrian Utley produced records and started a record label. It was an inadvertent hiatus. An eleven year hiatus would normally kill a band. Not Portishead. Portishead made that third album as if only a few years had passed. Third isn’t just the proper follow-up to their first pair of amazing albums, 1994’s Dummy and 1997’s Portishead. Third is Portishead’s best album, period.
Third displays a downplaying of the “trip-hop” style that made Portishead (and Massive Attack, among others) famous in the early ‘90s. Album opener “Silence” features many of the textures and oppressive mood swings of early Portishead songs, but without being danceable or groovy in the slightest. “Plastic” is practically krautrock, reminiscent of Can in the best ways imaginable. The album’s highlight is “The Rip,” a song that slowly builds around an acoustic guitar loop and eventually crashes into synthesizers and Gibbons’ moody lyrics (“While, white horses/They will take me away/And the tenderness I feel/Will send the dark underneath/Will I follow?").
Bonus! Radiohead’s hotel room cover of Portishead‘s “The Rip.”