8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
The very definition of the word 'grower',
This review is from: Third (Audio CD)
When I first spun up this album I have to admit I was disappointed. After such a long gap, thoughts of a radical change of direction are furthest from the listener's mind- we just want to be back in that student bedroom in 1997 listening to "Elysium" whilst we get stoned out of our minds with our campus buddy. And I fell into this trap instantly.
After hearing "Machine Gun" I was intrigued enough to want to recreate the 90s by being able to sit down and listen to a new Portishead album. That was an experience in itself.
"What is this?!?" I asked myself- and you should know I'm no stranger to disjointed 'uncomfortable' music, being a fan of the likes of Autechre, Aphex, Joy Division, Zappa- and I felt a little disappointed. I assigned it 3 stars in my head, but thought I was being generous. I found it even more paranoid, fractured and the soundtrack to the bleakness going on in Gibbons' tortured mind than their last one- and whilst I was in awe of this, I wasn't getting that so bleak it lifts you up vibe at all.
But I persisted, and on about the third listen it came alive. In horribly vivid black and white, like Bergman on acid. There it all was: the unmistakable Portishead sound- buried, certainly, but it was there under the rubble; this was Portishead in the 21st century- the Dark in the darkest of times; the suffering of man, the encroaching paranoia; the suffocating hopelessness that threatens to engulf us all if we let it; but also there is fight, there is anger- this is a militant record.
A more uncomfortable and yet rewarding listening experience cannot be found at the moment. It is this paradox that makes "Third" a serious contender for album of the year already, and perhaps the most successful 'comeback album' of any band in the last couple of decades, arguably.
My favourite tracks are "Silence", "The Rip", "Plastic"; "Machine Gun" and "Magic Doors".
If you want something to put on whilst you and your wife entertain your friends, this is not it. If you want something that sums up the times, leaves you a little disturbed and exhilarated, then THIS IS IT.
Half a star deducted for the slightly-too-quirky/irrelevant "Deep Water". So I'm really giving it 4.5, even though I can't on Amazon.