A review I read for this Massive Attack album prior to purchase, is, after listening to it, pretty much spot on, with a few exceptions which I'll go into later. It's inevitable however, when anything is compared to an all time classic (Mezzanine 1998), the comparison isn't really fair. For example, in tennis terms, if you compare Andy Murray with Roger Federer, Murray doesn't really compare all that well, yet he is a brilliant player in his own right. In musical terms, I don't think this album is brilliant and it does suffer because of the presence of Mezzanine. Possibly Massive Attack struggled after their success of '98, with direction for this new album in 2003. Who knows? The previous reviewer stated that they felt the band had attempted a spin off to achieve similar acclaim. I don't agree with this assessment. To me it's darker than Mezzanine and different enough for me to reject that notion. I agree Sinead O'Connor isn't Tracey Thorn in terms of vocals but the song writing is better. For me the album meanders a bit and I agree that it's a bit one paced. Some of the songs don't sufficiently distinguish themselves from one another. Special Cases is a stand out track along with Future Proof. All throughout you can see why Massive Attack have won an award for Original Sound (2009). The only other musical comparison that I can think of here is when Kid A by Radiohead was released in the year 2000. Music critics rounded on the band for this release after their OK Computer classic of '97. They had gone from the sublime to the ridiculous in three years. Picking up a copy of Q Magazine the next time they print a list of what they consider to be the best albums ever made you'll predictably fined OK Computer at the top, but less predictably Kid A in the top 10. The review states that the track "Morning Bell" is the best Radiohead has ever produced. I'm afraid, however, that 100th Window is no Kid A, perhaps because it isn't radical enough to distinguish itself in it's own right from the previous Mezzanine classic. It isn't a carbon copy, but it isn't different enough. Kid A does do this. The reason for the poor reception being that it was so radically different from their classic OK Computer that the critics were gobsmacked. If you listen to Kid A and Ok Computer back to back you'll see what I mean. So 100th Window is a good album. I give it four stars. Highly recommended CD for under £5. If only Robert Del Naja and Thom Yorke would collaborate on something then Utopia would indeed have arrived!!
I am a huge fan of MA. My all time favourite tracks are...
Teardrop Black Milk What your soul sings Future proof Protection Safe from harm Small time shot away
Yep 3 of them are on this album. Now for some reason a lot of people dislike this album? Probably the same way i hated the dreadful 'Heligoland' album...the eternal blemish on the MA career.
Now I see massive attack as a benchmark of rich, deep, sensuality, crisp beats and subtle nuances within the electronica that combine into sublimity itself, I never really liked the R&B aspect with rapped lyrics from the earlier days. I think they managed to find a space that was something more elemental, primal, dark and ethereal and that's why we love them right?....To me the dark places that 'Mezzanine' took us into was probably their finest work at captivating the audience. '100th Window' is different but has echoes of this power. I often listen to both albums back to back from the dark sublime, sensual void of mezzanine to the wistful melancholy of 100th window they just both work together and feel like the practiced work of musical masters.
Sometimes I find the albums that take a while to grow on you are the ones that stay with you the longest and this album took a fair while to charm its way into my affections. I remember waiting for its release and then feeling really deflated when I got it home and listened to it. However, after a few plays some of the tracks started to embed themselves in my head and I got to the point where I was constantly playing it in the car, in the kitchen and on an MP3 player when I was out on the mountain bike. It is the archetypal grower.
I went to see them on the 100th Window tour and they put on an excellent show. Many of the tracks take on a greater resonance when played live. Opinions appear to be divided on some of the tracks. I personally love the Sinead O'Connor offerings but there is a downside - pretty much like Leftfield- MA have real problems playing a full live set as they can never get all their guest singers on the road. So thank goodness for Horace Andy who once again pitches in with his own haunting vocals. I own Blue Lines, Mezzanine, Protection, No Protection and this album but given that I am a predominantly rock-based music lover, many of my friends are surprised that I give shelf space to Massive Attack. Most would be even more surprised to find that I would rate this among the top 50 albums that I own.
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