Wednesday, May 07, 2008



Having established oneself as an innovator and a misunderstood genius, and then disappearing for a decade, what does one do next?

(In my case, I ran off to a small mill town outside of Berlin, where I coached a scrappy-but-determined softball team, drank boxes of rum and wrote the greatest graphic novel about homosexual minotaurs that the world will ever see.)

Try, as they do here, to escape from the cliché that the world has boxed them into — Whole Foods, spa weekend background soundtrack for yuppies — Portishead, like all of us, can only change people’s perceptions of who they are to a slight degree.

Despite getting the record off to an exciting start with funky, percussion-heavy swinger, “Silence,” the rest of the tunes tend to bend into a relatively tame, mid-tempo pace and offer few surprises. While it’s a nice collection, they’ve done better already, and that’s why so many have been waiting so long for this one.

Fans of the ’60s futurists the Silver Apples will hear a big influence, especially in the song “We Carry On.”

When the ninth song, “Small,” kicks in and kicks ass, one had almost forgotten that surprise was supposed to be on the menu. It’s a crazy, thrilling ride best heard either on drugs or in a car ride, but hopefully not at the same time.

C. 2008 LEO Weekly

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