Sound — 10
This is an amazing album. Essentially it's trip-hop and it has mixtures of blues and jazz as well. But the instruments are mixed together with such skill and the programming and samples are used to perfection. This is the definative sound of a chillout album if I ever heard one.
Lyrics — 10
Lyrically this is possibly as dark as it can get. On 'Sour Times' singer Beth Gibbons sorrowfull exclaims 'Nobody loves me its true/ Not like you do'. It generally revolves around despair and unrequited love, with a bit of confused soul searching on the side. But it's done with care that its listenable. Maybe thats the only downside to the album that it really is depressing. As vocalist Beth Gibbons is perfect. She can croon, growl or just deliver quietly to give an unforgettable experience.
Overall Impression — 10
As it's a trip-hop album you'd generally have to think of Massive Attack alongside Portishead. For sheer depression factor the next closest is possibly Radiohead but even they appear happy go lucky alongside portishead. In innovation it has to be put next to the bends for experimenting with samples and how heavy you can make a drum kit sound (see 'Strangers'). 'Glory Box', 'Mysterons' and 'Sour Times' are the best songs off the album, but only just. The chillout aspect is my favourite aspect, the only problem being that it sounds and feels very depressing (in the terms of those who judge bands like Radiohead merely on the general feel of their songs). This has to be one of the coolest albums I've ever heard though. Please buy it and find a love for trip-hop.