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Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 5 March 2017
Awful. I bought this on the back of Dummy having thought Dummy was fantastic. No two albums can be the same, obviously, but you could at least expect the same vein in style, etc. Not in this case. Portishead is disjointed, screechy, annoying... I have read the 'in praise' reviews and I couldn't disagree more. All ten thumbs up for Dummy (impossible I know but that's how much I liked it) one star for this horror show.
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on 25 October 2000
The litmus tests of how much you gain from any album must be how often you listen to it, and do you listen to all of it. I have owned this CD for some time now and it has consistently been at the front of my collection. Unlike many other CD's in my collection I can not abide to pick out my favourite tracks before moving onto another disc. I do have my favourites of course but they are appreciated best in the context of the album as a whole. The dark rich and complex production is thoroughly absorbing. Don't "listen" to this album - feel it.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 January 2006
Portishead created a unique sound in their debut "Dummy," combining smoky jazz and trip-hop. So an equally good follow-up was a pretty tall order. Enter the self-titled "Portishead," which ups the eerie noir feel while not abandoning the cool electronic edge. In the months before their return, it seems appropriate to revisit their older material.

"Did you feed us tales of deceit,/Conceal the tongues who need to speak?/Subtle lies and a soiled coin,/The truth is sold, the deal is done," Beth Gibbons intones, sounding like a slightly gleeful robot. That sets the tone for "Portishead," giving it a darker tone than its predecessor -- darker songs, darker vocals, darker music.

The jazz overtones are still there, bubbling up in songs like the distant "Over" and "Seven Months," which sounds strangely like fellow trip-hop artist Emiliana Torrini. Only the downtempo "Over" and softly poppy "Western Eyes" break from this cooler sound, sounding warm and unaltered. The rest of the album is a different story.

Somehow it adds to the noir atmosphere to have darker, colder sounds woven in with the jazzy trip-hop. "Humming" includes a strange background beat that sounds exactly as you would imagine a UFO. This dark, experimental edge makes it a bit harder to get into than their debut album, but when you do get into it, it's almost frighteningly intense.

The jazzy percussion is one of the first things you notice about this, paired with horns and thick synth. It's surprisingly heady to listen to. Also cold and distant -- which seems appropriate, since the simple lyrics focus on loneliness, melancholy, sadness and loss ("Why should I forgive you,/After all that I've seen,/Quietly whisper,/When my heart wants to scream?").

Beth Gibbons plays around with her vocals this time around -- while Gibbons's voice is normally very pretty, in a few songs she twists it into creepy monotones. It's a bit jarring at first, compared to her usual melodic singing, but it suits the darker songs here. The filtered, eerie intonations in "Cowboys" are downright spine-chilling.

Portishead, presently working on their long-awaited third album, made a triumphant second album. While not as easily accessible as their debut, it's definitely an entrancing experience.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 15 January 2018
I loved this album when it first came out many, many moons ago and gave a copy as a gift to someone who heard the brilliant 'All Mine' in a video I'd made recently and said they had to have it. Listened to my own copy again recently and still sounds great after all these years - dark and menacing for the most part but full of depth and atmosphere with a fantastic trippy big sound.
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on 31 December 2010
I won't bother going into details about each individual track. All you really need to know is that this is an ESSENTIAL purchase; whether you liked 'Dummy', whether you are into Electronic / downtempo music, or simply if you just appreciate well-made, beautiful music.

I missed Portishead first time around, being too immersed in dancefloor-oriented stuff to truly get into this. Now that I'm older and wiser, I can fully appreciate Portishead for what they are - the best electronic band of the 90s if not EVER. This album feels a bit more 'grown-up' than Dummy. It's certainly darker and the production is of a higher standard. That said, I prefer the first album - it simply has better tunes from start to finish. A couple of the tracks on 'Portishead' feature a side of Beth which I really dislike (too much banshee-like wailing and warped impressions of Shirley Bassie for my liking) - a theme which unfortunately was built upon even further in 'Third'.

A lot of the uplifting melancholy of Dummy has been replaced by a twisted angst, which although works well for the most part, shining though on 'All Mine' and 'Elysium', I feel means that the heights of 'Numb' and 'Strangers' are not quite matched. That said, this album is still head and shoulders above everything else in the genre and beyond - and having listened to 'Third' recently, I can also say, it doesn't get any better than this from Portishead themselves............
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This for me is Trip hop at its seminal best, an album that is grainy , harsher and supplying scratchy atmospherics – that goes beyond their first album Dummy. At times some of the tracks seem to lead one down a somewhat dark path, but it’s a path worth treading. Others will say that this album is more of an acquired taste, and compared to their debut album Dummy, far too experimental. None the less for me this is a deliciously wicked album that satisfies my tastes, for those wishing to expand their musical tastes, and enjoy alternative rock then this album is really worth sampling.
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on 16 November 2015
ITS A NICE ENOUGH SOUND I am a fan, and I love the ability Portishead have of creating a sound so emotional but accessible as the tracks are here. I hate to compare albums but the original was the best, this kind of reminded me more of a Shirley Bassey sound which is fine except it lost a little of the magic for me. Almost as if it was trying too hard to be so different even from their first album. Maybe I think too much but this is how I felt about it. Having said that, it's a grower, I have learned to love it.
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on 8 September 2017
Didn't do anything for me. I preferred their 1st & 3rd album
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on 11 February 2016
Portishead as an album is great there music is brilliant but with Beth Gibbons vocals it takes there music to a different level , once you've heard this you will want to hear every album they've ever made .
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on 17 November 2017
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