Hugely anticipated 2008 from the UK Electronic outfit. It's been ten long years since PNYC and the wait is over! Third is the 2008 album from Portishead. They are a trip-hop group from Bristol, England, named after the nearby town of the same name. 11 tracks.
has been a long time coming, the result of a lengthy creative torpor following 1997's dark, distinctly underrated album Portishead
. Importantly, though, they've shaken it. While the core trio of Beth Gibbons, Geoff Barrow, and Adrian Utley remains, this is quite a different band to Portishead's 90s incarnation: gone is the slo-mo turntable scratching and smoky jazz feel, replaced by heavy, brooding rhythms, vintage-sounding electronics, and spindly guitar. Still present, though, is that sense of emotional fracture and deep gloom. "Silence" opens with a dense drum loop which suddenly falls away to reveal Gibbons' voice, cold but magnificent: "Wounded and afraid, inside my head/Falling through changes". "Nylon Smile", meanwhile, is a fine example of Third
's occasional folksy edge, an acoustic song reminiscent of Leonard Cohen that, around its midpoint, lifts off on a propulsive electronic rhythm, Gibbons holding one clear, hard note as synthesisers bubble beneath. At times, it's a harsh and foreboding listen: the electronic drums of "Machine Gun" might put off the listener hoping for smooth dinner party fare. But Third
is a brave and forward-thinking return, and one great enough to justify its lengthy gestation. --Louis Pattison