The Third Heard
Saelan just beat me to this one and I must concur with everything he says. Nevertheless, Portishead's long-awaited Third album merits some additional attention. I won't be posting any MP3s from it though, for fear of the corporate retribution that would inevitably follow.
I don't normally file-share albums I'm interested in before they're released - preferring to wait for the vinyl, naturally - but the prospect of a new Portishead recording after all these years was just too intriguing to pass up.
So what's it like?
In theory, Third is actually a little predictable. Essentially, it updates Portishead's classic trip hop noir sound by tacking on elements from a bunch of musical styles that have come back into fashion during the band's decade-long hiatus (acid folk cooing, proggy synths, even a little stoner metal dronage).
In practice, Third is way, way more than the some of its parts. Even with the myriad hip influences on display, Portishead have never sounded less like anyone else and more like themselves.
Because of this, any attempts to describe the album are inevitably going to fall short. I mean, I can have a go at describing a couple of that stand-out tracks, if you want.
Ahem... well, "We Carry On" kind of sounds like Sonic Youth trying to play minimal techno. "Machine Gun" is something along the lines of Autechre fronted by Judy Dyble (nice obscure reference, I know, cheers.)
You'll see what little justice these descriptions do to the songs when you hear the album for yourself. Trust me, though, I'm not being lazy here - it really is very difficult to do Third justice with mere words.
Even calling it a triumphant return would be unfair because that's a platitude and Third deserves way more than platitudes. The first truly great album of 2008 has finally arrived. Well, it'll be arriving in about six weeks time, I guess.
Worth the wait, though.