Portishead

Third | Island
By MATT PARISH  |  April 22, 2008
3.0 3.0 Stars
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David Lynch took back his spooky, crackly beats and the band replaced them with a pile of electronics and rickety, minimalist percussion to craft this ultra-depressing ode to watching it all slip away. Listening to the long-awaited curveball that is Third is like watching rotten harbor debris, scavenger sea gulls, and massive tankers float by. “Nylon Smile” melds a repetitive hand drum with backwards guitar warbles as a bed for Beth Gibbons to deliver a helpless goodbye: “I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve you/And I don’t know what I’ll do without you.” It’s an empty, bewildered feeling that pervades the entire album. “The Rip” follows, twisting a wilting guitar into a chorus of soul-crushing synth tones oozing up from the buried scores of John Carpenter films. They’d sound like an ’80s after-school special if it weren’t for the drugged one-two beat and Gibbons’s near-death whispers. Anyone expecting a return to the slick cinemafunk of ’90s Portishead will be taken aback by Third, but though the album never reaches the eureka moments of old, it’s a welcome step into new territory and a more than satisfying downer dose to set against the onset of sunny days and ice cream.
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