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42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Trip-hop noir
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...
Published on February 15, 2005 by E. A Solinas

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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Still a good album
I guess I have to compare this to the first album, as it was the reason I bought this. I had an instant attraction to their first album (mainly bought that because of the rave reviews) and I enjoy something new. I read that a lot of people love this, and I still think this is good, but I wouldn't rate it as an equal. The sound and atmosphere of this album seems so...
Published on July 23, 1999


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42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Trip-hop noir, February 15, 2005
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This review is from: Portishead (Audio CD)
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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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Window Into Another World, September 6, 2005
By 
Jordan Hyman (St. Louis, MO USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Portishead (Audio CD)
It is pretty widely said that Portishead's self-titled second album is okay but not as good as Dummy. Let me say that my point of view tends not to be so wide.

If you were a lover of Dummy tracks like "Sour Times" and "Roads", you will be disappointed with this album. But if you dug the styles of tunes like "Wandering Star" and "Pedestal", then you should do yourself a big favor and buy this album if you haven't yet. There's absolutely no way you'll regret it. Because, for me, Portishead's Portishead is one of the greatest albums ever released.

Dummy was filled with creative "songs". You know, song-like structures and things you can listen to out of context of the rest of the album. But what separates this from Dummy is that you won't find "songs". What you'll find is about an hour of beautiful, haunting, mind-altering MUSIC. There's no better fuel for meditation, creativity, conversation or even tripping than "Portishead". This music puts you into another world against your will to have you chewed up and spit out. Listening to this album in its entirity is more of an experience than you'll be able to find in most places. And those who have not had this experience are sad, sad people who stare at the floor when they walk and pass you with an aura of uncoolness.

The eclectic beat (changing from pure trip-hop in Undenied to an indie garage flavor in Half Day Closing) keeps you moving through its swaying motion into its abyss of uniquely layered melodies and sounds (oddly distorted guitars, a heart-rumbling bass, morbid pianos, and effects lifted straight from old noir flicks and 50's sci-fi vibes) with the great icing of Beth Gibbons vocals that you'll swear is a ghost living inside of your head.

Now, that being said, this album is definitely not for everyone. Impatient people and shallow listeners will not be able to properly absorb all of the textures and oddities of this masterpiece. Some who listen at face value may find it to be repetitive (although it isn't in the least bit repetitive, definitely less repetitive than the often compared Tricky). It is imperative to listen to this album with both a relaxed and open mind.

Also, as a little side-note, if you're a fan of the filmmaker David Lynch, you'll probably dig this album a lot. I don't know why. It's just one of those truths.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I feel so cold..., April 12, 2006
By 
Metalgazer (Salisbury, NC USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Portishead (Audio CD)
There's nothing like Portishead and nothing like their 2nd album. Its darker, creepier, and more haunting than the first. The entire album has an overal similar sound which makes for a more themed and theatrical sonic experience. I like this better than the first album which had the obvious singles and dabblings in various spectrums of trip-hop which now resembles everyone from tricky to morcheeba. However on this 2nd release, Portishead holds their own, establishing their own trademarked sound: an eerie, slow-paced death-orchestra led by a sultry singer with a heart of black-gold. This music will get into your brain and eat away like bad acid. Exquisite production and smart use of turntables. From the intro of eerie high pitched twinklings over a heartbeat that lead into twangy strums of electric guitar and record scratching, to the last song which ends with the sampled vocals of an old bluesman pining about hookers and gin, this is a masterpiece recording. Goes well with a late-night martini and captures the dreary mood of a cool, misty morning in Autumn just after it has rained and the fog is still hanging in the air...
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cool Jazzy Musique-Noir, February 9, 2005
By 
This review is from: Portishead (Audio CD)
Portishead is classic musique-noir album that is beyond description. Its hauntingly fractured beats with "loungey" inspiration and Gibbon's emotive vocals which range from despair to mocking to exhilaration form into one of the most unique sounds. Though arguably theatrical at times, this is an album that has and will continue to amaze. I was a casual listener to "Dummy", Portishead's first, but upon buying this album in 1998 I was in rapture: this music is moving. Sounding like a 1940's nightclub or 1960's lounge at times and then quickly moving to sounds that sound like a SoHo art club and then switching to a mood like that 4 AM telephone call with some girl who is just too close to the edge, the sheer range and feel of this album is fantastic.

One thing that is terrific about this album is that it can be played the whole way through making it a great soundtrack to a cool party or a long drive to nowhere. Its jazzy smooth yet jarring sound is good morning noon and night. If you don't own this album yet you are years late but don't worry, its not dated and it will provide great enjoyment for years to come.

-- Ted Murena
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Dummy!, January 19, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Portishead (Audio CD)
I know that it might sound sacrilegious but it's true. Portishead's 1997 sophomore is in my opinion a much greater experience than the debut Dummy. Whereas Dummy was a delicate, subtle & stable effort with all of the tracks pretty much sounding in the same vein (Not that it's a bad thing) Portishead is more industrial & heavy, id est much more fascinating to listen to. The lyrics are far superior to the debut lyrics (On several occasions @ least, like in the social grievance that is "Half Day Closing") & Beth Gibbons' vocals sound much more sinister & spiteful- In point of fact she sounds like an entirely different singer which is a great achievement a very selected few artists could achieve. Some songs are too strident for their own good (Like the grating opener "Cowboys") but that's one of the things that make the album far more interesting to listen to than Dummy, along with the more vast usage of "live" instruments such as guitars, pianos & organs. Favourite songs so far- "All Mine" (Very much reminiscent of "Glory Box"), "Undenied" (Beautiful, simple piano), "Over" (Ah, the acoustic guitar!) & of course, the song that made me buy both Portishead's studioalbums, "Only You" (Topnotch video also). You'll be surprised to hear the male vocals in the end of "Western Eyes"!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I actually give it four and a half..., February 28, 1999
By 
DerekT (Portland, Oregon) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Portishead (Audio CD)
But I can't quite give it five becaue I know what this band is capable of. In my mind, perhaps the most original and influential band of the 90's, Portishead comes out with another great album. If it weren't for the absolute brilliance of their first album and the expectation that it caused for me, I would give this five stars. "Mourning Air" is a masterpiece, and "Western Eyes" is a beautiful touch. I still am absolutely in love with Beth Gibbons, even though there are a few points in this CD when her singing gets a bit loud and unbearable. Do not worry if you do not like other things you have heard labeled "trip hop", Portishead transcends this label, and most other categories. Dummy took a while to grow on me, and perhaps all this CD needs is a few more weeks of deep listening before it joins my list of all time classics, but for right now I have to keep it just slightly behind Dummy, if for nothing else because Dummy came Four years ago and truly revolutionized the music scene.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soundtrack for a movie Noir, February 25, 2005
This review is from: Portishead (Audio CD)
This album is almost a soundtrack of a fictive movie Noir. Let me say first that I like this second, self-titled album by Portishead even more then their ground-breaking debut 'Dummy'.

Sssh! The movie is about to start...

It's night. The creepy silence is giving you shivers. Suddenly a man appears.. 'Cowboys' is starting in the background. The creepy intro and Beth's voice cut into your flesh. Now you see the man's face covered with blood. It seems like he's on the run for someone or something. The volume of 'Cowboys' is rising every second. The man looks right, then left. Did he see a man standing in the shadows over there? The man starts running. He's hearing footsteps following him. Suddenly someone grabs him by the arm and pulls him into a building. They got him. The building seems to be a stiptease-bar. The enjoyable 'All Mine' starts playing. It's pleasant, yet also very dark, just like the bar. A man sitting in the corner talks to him. He says that he needs to get his money back, but it seems like the poor guy doesn't have any. While 'Undenied' is playing in the background they beat him up and torture him. Afterwords they throw him in a dark, mysterious room. He can't see anything, he can only hear something. It seems like there's some kind of radio in the room. It's playing 'Half Day Closing' on mid-volume. It scares the man. He wants to get out of there immediately. After a few tries he gets out of the building. It's cold and creepy outside. No lights, only the moon. The scary, but also mysterious'Over' is played. He hears voices inside of the building, they must have already discovered he escaped. He starts running again, with the song 'Over' buzzing in his head. He stops running when he sees an old, spooky house that seems empty. He opens the door and enters the house. When the door shuts, you hear 'Humming' in the background. He's in an extremely dark hall. He gets upstairs. All the windows are opened and a fresh 'Mourning Air' flews truh the windows. He looks out of one of the windows. He sees some shadows moving in the garden. He gets out of the house as quickly as possible. The sounds of 'Seven Months' echo in the background. He's running truh the streets and steals a car. He drives as fast as he can. He puts on the radio and 'Only You' is being playing on the radio. The sound relaxes him a bit, but it's quite spooky.

Suddenly he gets a flat tire and moves over. He sees some cars coming close, he has been followed. He runs into the forest. But some men grab him and throw him on the ground. 'Elysium' starts playing. One man talks. 'You have to pay. If it's not with money then it's with your life'. 'We warned you, Port!' says another man. The man takes a knife, grabs Port and cuts off his head. His head falls on the ground, with his eyes pointing to the west. The tunes of 'Western Eyes' end the movie. The Movie is called Port's Head.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as 'Dummy', June 26, 2000
This review is from: Portishead (Audio CD)
Many people are swift to condemn this album as 'Dummy's poorer relation. I admit, I found this album difficult and disappointing at first, but, much like 'Mezzanine' by Massive Attack, it wormed it's way into my conciousness, and has stayed there since. Of course the album is close to 'dummy', it is made by the same people! But, there are some crucial differences between this album and 'Dummy'. For a start, Beth's vocals are harsher, more varied and dare I say, sexier. She still seems upset about something (Undenied, Only You) but tracks like Cowboys and Seven Months show her to be more venomous and up for a fight. In terms of the sound, there is still the scratching and breakbeats, but also there is more sparse composition (winess the strikingly simple and effective 'Over'), and when Portishead want to use an orchestra, boy, do they use it. The string section of the LP makes up the finest track, 'Humming', a beautiful and epic combination of 30 violins and the Theremin, making it sound like a Horror film theme, except much better. If you loved 'Dummy', then you should buy this, as it will grow on you. It might seem inapproachable and difficult at first, but the sheer depth of the sound will ensure that you come bck for more. Give it a chance.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark happiness, February 9, 2003
By 
"pacifcace" (Fargo, ND United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Portishead (Audio CD)
This entire album reminds me of a dark, foggy street with a single man standing under a streetlight far away. You know he's watching you, but you don't know why....
It's a fantastic, dark, and surreal musical landscape, and although its nowhere near as good as their first album (Dummy) its still amazing.
Buy Dummy first, and if it hits you the same way it has me, then go for this album too.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Supremely spooky, December 29, 2004
By 
Wes (World Citizen, Earth) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Portishead (Audio CD)
This is a masterpiece of haunting, cinematic, ghostly, sexy 007-horn blasts and theremins. Beth Gibbons sings as if she's on the cusp of expiration, all sounding so perfect.
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Portishead [Vinyl]
Portishead [Vinyl] by Portishead (Vinyl - 1997)
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