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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.
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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
For anyone that cares, Portishead are still made up of Geoff Barrow, Beth Gibbons and Adrian Utley, just as they were back in 1994 when "Dummy" hit the streets.
It has taken them 11 years to produce another album, entitled "Third", which has moved on from previous offerings - the smoky trip hop sound that was the backdrop to many a chilled late night is gone - replaced by an altogether heavier, starker, darker flavour.
Singer Beth Gibbons' distinctive, vulnerable bluesy, sometimes unsettling but beautiful vocals remain etched across the album's songs from hammering drums, tribal beats, and weird, sometimes crazy samples.
The vulnerability and strength of the lady's voice really cements the record. It means that it still sound exactly like you remember Portishead sounding like, even though the musical backing is decidedly modern and much more sinister than anything the band tried in the happy-do-lucky days of the mid-90s.
The openers "Silence" and "Hunter" sound like the stuff of some Edwardian ghost story, contrasting with the pseudo French chanteuse affectation of "The Rip", finding Beth Gibbons wafting an edgy ethereal vocal over plucked acoustic guitars. It could only be Portishead. Beth Gibbons ponders whether white horses will ever whisk her away, while a beautiful bass melody works up to a soft gallop in the background.
Stand out tracks include the distinctive "Magic Doors" with piano chords, to the powerful hammering beats of the single "Machine Gun".Read more ›
But this isn't quite the same Portishead as before -- the music here is more raw, minimalistic and dark, with a ragged murky edge that replaces some of the trippiness. While its flavour is quite different from Portishead's earlier work (and this album is best heard with as few comparisons as possible) the beautifully bittersweet "Third" is a haunting experience on its own.
First, a man recites the Wiccan rule of three... in Portuguese. Not sure what that has to do with anything, really.
It's followed up by "Silence," a darkly vibrant mass of violins, urgent drumming and dark ripples of synth. But then it slows suddenly, and Beth Gibbons sings in a soft, fragile voice, "Tempted in our minds/Tormented inside lie/Wounded and afraid/Inside my head..." She adds in a wispy, plaintive voice, "Did you know when you lost?/Did you know when I wanted/Did you know when I lost...?"
By this point, you should have a pretty good idea what you'll think of "Third." Whether you love it or you hate it, you'll know.
The dark, fragile sound of that first song carries over into the fairylike "Hunter" with its growling guitars, and the songs that follow -- tense elusive pop laments, organ ballads riddled with weird flapping and echoing synth noises, satiny rattly piano-synth melodies, and even a light little acoustic song that sounds mildly out of place, but makes a nice little lightweight oasis in all the dark stuff. The album rounds out with "Threads'" bleak web of windy synth, crashing drums and eerie guitar.
The song that really doesn't fit in here is ironically the first single, the rather repetitive, jarring drum-a-thon that is "Machine Gun.Read more ›
I'm not sure if you just have to be in the right state of mind for this one, but there is an awesome album in here. If you didn't like it the first time around, give it a second listen - it just might change your mind!
Most recent customer reviews
Don't expect the same old same portishead albums from this one. They have grown since then. It is a bit difficult to listen to at first, but you will hopefully get it eventually. Read morePublished on Sept. 6 2009 by elalem ever
I'm a big Portishead fan as far as the first albums go...this one was such a disappointment comparatively. It's alright, but it wasn't worth the wait.Published on Jan. 23 2009 by Joy
A very hard album to get into, none of the instant gratification of the first 2 albums. Maybe a grower, time will tell. Read morePublished on Aug. 7 2008 by Guy Rogers
It was worth waiting all this time. It took me a while to really appreciate it but now I'm absolutly into it.Published on May 22 2008 by Eric Gignac
For the amount of time it took to do this album I have to say I am dissapointed. It isn't a bad album but it really isn't that good either. Read morePublished on May 7 2008 by Shawn E. Couch