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Third

3.9 out of 5 stars 238 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 29, 2008
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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.

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Portishead's Third 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
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 29, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Mercury
  • ASIN: B0016HNOXQ
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (238 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,804 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
"We really wanted to sound like ourselves but not sound like ourselves. It was always going to be difficult." - Geoff Barrow, Pitchfork Media interview, Apr. 7, 2008.

Geoff Barrow and the rest of Portishead had every reason in the world to feel this way. When Dummy debuted in 1994, it didn't sound like anything else and wasn't even expected to sell 50,000 copies. It's hard to believe in this day and age, but Dummy's dark, torchy pop punctuated with hip-hop beats and swimming in a sea of bass had never before been co-opted by anyone--not even Massive Attack, who had approached trip-hop from more of a dance perspective. It blew up, sparking a trip-hop genesis in alt-rock circles looking for a viable (and similarly angst-ridden) alternative to grunge, especially in the States. Now, of course, Dummy's sound is everywhere, from the umpteen upstart trip-hop bands that subsequently appeared to spy films, cocktail parties and massage therapy commercials. So we would be forgiven for not being bowled over by Dummy today, and Portishead would be forgiven for wanting to distance themselves from it.

When last we heard from Portishead, it seemed as though they were packing it in for good, leaving us with a slightly less fresh self-titled album in 1997 and a live recording at Manhattan's Roseland Ballroom in 1998 before retreating into the shadows. Always something of an enigma and quite shy of the press, it was left to us to assume that Portishead was frustrated with how their crown jewel had been assimilated and watered-down, and that they were too daunted by the challenge that Barrow mentioned above to record a third album: How do you sound like yourself and not sound like yourself? All of which makes Third--a record that wasn't even supposed to exist--such a cryptically dazzling triumph.
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...I've waited a good solid week of listening to the new Portishead "Third" before diving into the review. That's to say, its been almost a non-stop solid listen for me...while I'm finding it be a rather difficult task to eject from the CD player...hasn't been since the release of Radiohead's "Kida" that I've found anything quite as artistically embracing and sensually orgasmic as "Third."

Nah! "Third" is no "Dummy" nor it is a replication of the self-titled release...this is a band that is too intellect to do the same thing twice and too far removed from the media to give a toss, as admitted by Geoff Barrow in a recent SG interview. For those who were expecting a "dance" album--toss that one out!!!

No, Portishead is not a dance-music making band! As "Dummy" might have helped to define "trip-hop"--it had its gleeful soulful moments, enriched with periodically sampling. Happy music?!? When has Portishead ever put out a bouncy Celion Dion whimsy of inspirational "white" fluff for the masses?

But, it's not all about the gloom on "Third," as the seductive-pulp sounding ballad "Hunter" sedates the listener with the lines: "...and if should fall will you hold me? Will you pass me?"--a brilliant love song. Likewise, "Nylon Smile" carries on writing the same sweet-heart letter that cries: "I don't know what I've done to deserve you/and don't know what I'll do without you..." "The Rip" on the other hand is a rather vibrant colorful mellow humming, creating a visual sensation like staring into a kaleidescope and slowly turning the dial as the tempo gradually glides into a colorful rose-pedal of colors--perhaps the most "upbeat" blissful moment of the album.

"Third" is by far the most studio-experimental release that Portishead has created YET.
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Format: Audio CD
Third

The last few years have been really good to me in terms of new music that I can listen to, but no group has been able to fill the void left by the absence of Portishead for way too long. That's why, like so many fans, I have been salivating over this album ever since I heard they were working on it. In fact I've been playing the Dummy and Portishead albums almost continuously over the past 3 days before I got a hold of this. :)

Well, I listened to teasers and clips and then when I got my paws on my copy of Third I listened to it over and over. I am very happy to be hearing Portishead again. Sure, if I was forced to compare, I would have to say that `Dummy' still has no equal among their three studio albums and their other stuff too. Still, this album is more experimental but isn't as far off as I thought it was going to be based upon the initial reviews I read. This album is a winner for me. It only took 4 listens for it to really grow on me. At least now I know that they are working on more stuff, and I have no doubt that they will continue to produce great music as long as they keep making new stuff.

They put out several teaser tracks over the past year that ended up making it on the album. `Machine Gun' is one of those tracks, and it will undoubtedly be one of the first singles. It just has a lot of mainstream appeal relative to other stuff on the album. Something about that constant machine gun background that fits so well.
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