Release Date: Apr 29, 2008
Genres: Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Electronica, Trip-Hop
Number Of Tracks: 11
There's much more than just the usual trip-hop beats on Third, Portishead's first album in 11 years.
UG Team, on may 23, 2008 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: After 11 years, trip-hop's beloved Portishead has returned with Third, an album that at times is a huge departure from what the trio has done in the past. There is still plenty of the trademark trip-hop sound that initially made Portishead famous back in the early 1990s, but it goes to a much further extreme. You get a little bit of industrial rock, some acoustic-focused tracks, and a touch of jazz. Experimentation is big on Third, and the band made the gutsy move of selecting the most unusual track on the album to be their first single.
The opening track Silence on the new album is classic Portishead, with cool beats against Beth Gibbons' even cooler vocals. There are plenty of samples and it could essentially have been a good fit for either the Dummy or the self-titled album. But then things slowly but surely start taking some new turns. Hunter does feature some prominent synth work, but it still feels more like a moody jazz tune. The Rip goes even further by stripping the song down to basically just vocals and an acoustic for the good part of it. There is some synth and percussion that enter into it about halfway through, but the song is pretty indicative of the rest of the album through it's raw, stripped-down quality.
Machine Gun, the most unlikely radio hit of the bunch, is actually the first single off the album. There is basically one main sample used throughout the song, and it sounds more akin to a raw industrial rock sample than the band's usual polished, trip-hop beats. Very little actually happens during the song, but it's still pretty hypnotizing. In fact, it feels more like it could fit really well in a cinematic setting -- preferably one with an eerie theme to it. I will be really curious to see if this single takes off because it truly is an anti-single.
Portishead fans will still be satisfied by most of the content on Third, particularly the tracks Small and Plastic, which do have the band's classic sound. They have a strong atmospheric quality and are among some of the more layered songs in terms of instrumentation. But the album is definitely more of a diverse mix of styles than ever before, and it's a credit to the band for branching out in new musical directions. // 9
Lyrics: The lyrics often tend to reflect what is going on musically on most Portishead albums, and Third carries on in that tradition. There is that underlying sad-and-lonely feel to most of the tracks musically speaking, and lyrically you get introspective, confused, and often heartbroken themes. Gibbons' vocal delivery sounds so haunting that every word is usually completely convincing. The words are rarely cheery and bright, but I imagine that most Portishead fans probably thrive on the band's moodiness. // 9
Overall Impression: Portishead was already an experimental band, but Third is the gutsiest material they've released in their 15-plus years as a band. For trip-hop purists, it might actually stray too far away from the ambient sound they have come to know and expect. Machine Gun is a pretty wild choice for a first single, and it might not be embraced by the general public. That's probably almost a certainty, given the combination of industrial sampling monotony and sparse instrumentation. It still is a fascinating little tune, even though it might not be the strongest track. For all of the musical stylings on Third, Portishead still excels in trippy, atmospheric soundscapes, and listeners still get a good helping of that genre on the album. // 9
Bissette-n, on august 25, 2008 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: For their third album, Portishead have moved away from trip hop to a more raw indusdtrial soud. The album seems to be much more interested in rhythm then melody. It all very experimental but it works brilliantly.
01. Silence - a great album opener. Long intro with a great drum beat and guitar work. And when Beth Gibbons vocals come in it's very powerful even though there is no much happening.
02. Hunter - the second track is more odd then the first track. This song has a disjointed feel to it but a great ending.
03. Nylon Smile - my least favorite track on the album. But it is still good though. Good drum beat to go with the backwards guitar.
04. The Rip - a fantastic song which is just mainly Beths vocals and an acoustic guitar. Halfway through, the song becomes quite Radiohead-esque as everything join in.
05. Plastic - what makes this song good is the cut up drum loop and the distorted guitar bit with the odd synth. I think this song is quite similar to Hunter.
06. We Carry On - my favorite song on the album. Brilliant synth bass riff, amazing vocals, grat guitar and effects and sublime drums.
07. Deep Water - how can a song a minute and a half long featuring a ukulele gete 10/10? When you listen to this song you will understand why. It works so well with the rest of the album and the vocoder bit is fantastic
08. Machine Gun - a very odd song. One sampled drum loop for 4 minutes with Beths singing. Still it is unbelievaly good. This song is what the whole album is about, raw industrial sound.
09. Plastic - the closest thing to old portishead on the album. Great jam section in the middle and as ever Beths vocal are fantastic.
10. Magic Doors - another brilliant song with really offbeat drums. The piano works well in the chorus but he best bit is the atonal saxophone solo in the middle which brings the song back perfectly.
11. Threads - the powerful ending tracks starts off quiet and build slowly to an amazing climax that fades out into a minute long guitar loop that bring the album to a close. // 10
Lyrics: The lyrics are close to perfect. Most of the lyric are troubling and haunting lyric and Beth Gibbons delivers them with gusto. The singing plays a big part on this album and her voice is treated like an instrument and they work perfectly with music. I think that the vocal highlight s of the album are The Rip, Machine Gun, Magic Doors and Threads. The vocodor backing vocals in Deep Water are brilliant too. // 10
Overall Impression: Overall I think this album is absolutly fantastic. One of the best things about it is that it demands attention. It is not as easy to listen to as other Portishead album but if you give it repeated listen you find yourselve with one of the most rewarding albums ever made. All the songs are strikingly original and none of them sound quite the same. It also manages to be experimental without being self-indulgent which is impressive. I think that a couple of decades this album will be considered one of the best albums off all time and will have the legendary status of Dark side of the moon, Revolver, Kid A and The white album. // 10