The thing that really sets this album apart from anything else produced in the last 10 years (including Tricky's other albums) is the lyrics. Like reading Shakespeare or listening to the ramblings of a drunk it takes a while to make sense of the words and realise just how much wisdom there is lying beneath:
"You feed me lies, distortion - the English disaster"
"I was raised in this place, now concrete is my religion"
"We're hungry, beware of our appetite"
I could try writing paragraph after paragraph about the different meanings I take from these lyrics and why I think they show us how ugly and scary an institution modern British culture can be, but I could never get the point across the way Tricky does. You know when you hear a tune and it's so good that you're convinced you've heard it before? Well that's how I feel about the words on this album - they sound like they were just waiting for someone to say them.
It's not just the lyrics either - the music creates the paranoid mood the lyrics evoke and the lyrics describe the dark lonely places the music takes you to, making it almost impossible to seperate the two. The beats are disjointed and messy - but never just for the sake of it. The chopped up ideas and phrases and the layering of different vocal parts on every song takes you to the twisted place the narrator is living in.
8 years down the line and this album still sounds ahead of the game - phrases like trip-hop and chilled-out are deceptive (even insulting), save them for baby food music like morcheeba. I rank this album up there with all the classics - astral weeks, the stone roses, dylan, marley. I just hope time proves me right!