June 5, 2008

Portishead - Third (2008)

Part of the reason this review took me so long to write is that after purchasing Third, people kept commenting that it was a "departure" from Portishead's earlier work. So, of course, I had to revisit the excellent 1994 album Dummy to see for myself. Upon listening to both (I'm not a huge fan of the self titled 1997 album, now that's a departure), I've come to the conclusion that the hypnotic vocal power of Beth Gibbons and trippy electronic twanging make Portishead Portishead, and although Third is perhaps more spare and slightly more raw? aggressive? than their previous work, it's still very much Portishead: moody, slightly spooky, driven by a vague sense of longing, and pretty sexy.

The best example of this is "Nylon Smile," Gibbons moaning "I don't know what I've done to deserve you" over an ambient, insistent rhythm. Two other hot tracks are "Silence" and "Machine Gun."

On the other hand, there's also the 1 minute and 33 second "Deep Water," Gibbons singing accompanied by what sounds sort of like a ukulele. I'm not feeling it, and I'm glad the rest of the album stays away from this.

This first time I listened to Third, it was Sunday morning, and I was making pancakes. It gave the whole endeavor a sort of dark, seamy feel. Music that turns Sunday breakfast into something vaguely naughty is always fine by me.


sandenuts said...

Sweet review Thecranewife! Not only did it give me an incentive to listen to Portishead's new one, it also reminded me to make pancakes, mmmmm pancakes.

Thecranewife said...

Thanks sandenuts! This is a really great time of year to make pancakes, what with all the fresh fruit topping possibilities. And, for what it's worth, I think it's always a great time of year to listen to Portishead.