Just a quick plug for my review of the new Portishead album, Third, which appears at Dusted today. I happen to think it’s one of my finer pieces of criticism. Normally I wouldn’t be so brazenly self-promotional, but here’s the intro paragraph, to get you hooked (or to make you gag on gassy pretension):
The penultimate scene in James Whale’s classic horror film Bride of Frankenstein features the awakening of the Monster’s mate, played by the severe yet striking Elsa Lancaster. The Bride, with her shock of white hair and erratic yet sensual body language, embodies the jarring juxtaposition of the lamplight world against the blinding verisimilitude of the electric age. At their best, Portishead provides a musical corollary; vocalist Beth Gibbons’ piercing tenor betrays the anguish of an analog soul torn apart and reconstituted in a Frankenstein-like arrangement of ones and zeroes. The music, while beautiful, is often as herky-jerky as Lancaster’s reanimated woman — an awkward marriage of grace and grotesquery. This aesthetic is still present, albeit in muted form, on Portishead’s “comeback” record, Third. The album ditches the dramatic ballast of 1997’s Portishead, but a mood of expectant dread is present throughout. Wallowing in the band’s mottled music is as easy as ever, and in many ways, even more rewarding.
More later. . .