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ThirdWho thought this day would come? 11 years after the last studio album (10 even since the PNYC live album), Portishead are back with a new album, Third. You have to be a bit scared though about the prospect of a new album after so long. Lots of questions pop up… are they still relevant, was it worth the wait, and ultimately should they have even bothered? My word.

Let’s address some of the questions. Are they still relevant? Well, I would argue that Dummy and Portishead still hold up really well to this day. Forget all the “trip-hop” associations, I think these two albums transcend any decade specific genre. But more importantly how does Third stack up? Really really well. It is certainly Portishead… Beth Gibbon’s voice makes sure of that… but it is a Portishead that has moved on. That is not to say that Portishead have veered off in another direction, but it just sounds like it did take 10 years to arrive.

If you are after the more mellow, soulful Portishead on Dummy, then Third may leave you cold. But if it is the darker places of their self-titled album that you go back to I think this will sidle up quite nicely. This is by no means a bleak album (which many criticised the second album of being), but it is certainly more harsh in places. Lead single Machine Gun is testament to that. But then there are moments of Beth Gibbons beauty, albeit wrapped up in quite obtuse beats. Ultimately it is all wrapped up in a menace that says “it may have taken 10 years, but we are back”.

So was it worth the wait? Well, it’s all relative. 10 years is a long time to wait. But it is an awesome album. Given how much I have listened to this in just a very short space of time, I think this is definitely going to be near the top of my list at the end of the year. Yes, I am glad they bothered. Take note My Bloody Valentine.

… muttler


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