Review Summary: Tricky pushes away his fans from the traditional dark, brooding atmosphere of ‘Maxinquaye’. Instead he looks towards other influences to meld another excellent outing of layered soundscapes and different approaches.
Looking at it now, Tricky’s 3rd album entitled ’Pre-Millenium Tension’
is another evolution of his sound in some ways. Although Tricky will never reach the summit he had already created with his debut masterpiece ’Maxinquaye’
, it is obvious he loves to change directions. Even if the general atmosphere is consistent, his use of other artists, general lack of flow in some songs, and more or less his “rapping” abilities all add a distinct unique property to most of his albums. Tricky’s second studio album came the same year his side-project effort ’Nearly God
was unleashed, which to him was “a collection of brilliant demos”. Some may say otherwise, but the majority agree it has a distinct presence ingrained in the album, something entirely different than ’Maxinquaye’
Tricky’s surplus of contributing artist on ’Nearly God’
like Bjork and at one time Blur’s Damon Albarn (was later removed). It becomes obvious as Tricky’s career moves on that his taste for a main vocalist is lost in his production. He enjoys rambling, cutting through the tracks with his raspy voice accompanying another vocalist with eclectic trip-hop atmospheres. The usual female vocalist that accompanied him in ’Maxinquaye’
(Martina Topley-Bird) joins in with Tricky on this extremely inaccessible album to many outsiders. If ’Nearly God’
showed his limitless direction (some of which was an entirely different mash-up of songs from ’Maxinquaye
) then ’Pre-Millenium Tension
shows the difficulties to embrace his style in full.
Some people say that Tricky has never replicated the dark and brooding atmosphere that is drenched within ’Maxinquaye’
but, it has become painfully obvious he has tried to stray from it. That debut album that everyone hails has become the epitome for a clear-cut trip-hop album, a mere opposite of the hopeful and lighter Massive Attack’s sound (pre-Mezzanine). Tricky’s attempts to stray from this sound have been for the most part successful. ’Pre-Millenium Tension
immediately brings its previous statements known. Edgy, abrasive, loud with striking vocal character, Tricky leads on as Martina Topley-Bird cuts in halfway. In a way “Vent” is exactly what Tricky has been feeling from the media overseas, dubbed the ‘King of Trip-Hop’ in only one album it carries much baggage to an already paranoid Tricky. If there ever was a reason to enjoy Pre-Millenium Tension
is the direction he takes. “Christiansands” is insanely addictive, from the simple guitar rhythm to the laid-back feel of Topley-Bird’s contribution to Tricky’s main verses. Previously it would be difficult to cite more than a few examples of Tricky leading the charge (and that stays true), but “Christiansands” really works to perfection for Tricky.
In a way this album really involves more traditional hip-hop and Rastafarian influences than trip-hop. It could be said the atmospheres and electronic surroundings that carousal with Tricky’s verses it substantial enough, but it’s something entirely different from his previous work. “Tricky Kid”, like “Christiansands” is another example of his attempt to throw another fast one by his fans, which does for the most part. “Tricky Kid” doesn’t work nearly as well as “Christiansands” mainly because of Tricky’s shortsighted lyrical content (extreme Rastafarian references all over) in the song and mainly the repetitive nature it exhibits. For all the crushing attempts that Tricky goes towards his own version of trip-hop it seems his production is always on-point. “Christiansands”, “Bad Dreams”, “Makes Me Wanna Die”, “Sex Drive”, “Bad Things”, and “Lyrics of Fury” all shows us his talent doesn’t necessarily hinge lyrically. Not only that, but Martina is suffocating in flow with her fusion with Tricky’s masterful beats from the spaceless “Bad Dreams” or gut wrenching “Makes Me Wanna Die”. Even if Tricky’s attempts for the most part meld with Rastafarian culture (heavily influenced in “Tricky Kid” and “Ghetto Youth”) in a hyper speed for us to appreciate it becomes obvious under all the references and overpowering atmosphere that ’Pre-Millennium Tension’
brings – it has lasting power, much like his debut.