Review Summary: Pretending to be something you aren’t.
Tricky why would you ever want to produce a “radio friendly” album as you put it? Your style and radio just doesn’t mix to be completely honest. Not only does the contributions of Ed Kowalczyk (singer to alternative band Live),Kiedis and Frusciante of Red Hot Chili Peppers, or Hawkman (the Rastafarian) doesn’t work for one second, but where are the dominate female vocals that grace almost ever track you’ve ever created? For the most part ’Blowback’
is a massive experiment towards a more friendlier, poppier sound that just sounds atrocious for the majority of the time. Something that Tricky has had difficulty recovering from since.
It’s just too bad Tricky’s best moment throughout this entire ordeal would be the contribution of the famously over the top Alanis Morissette. “Excess” exudes cool that was brought by a similar song from Tricky’s discography, namely “Christiansands”. The main difference here is Tricky is more subdued as Stephanie McKay does most of the vocal work (Morissette provides background vocals).
Well, if this album’s first track didn’t head off on a bad note I’m surely a liar! Sorry to disappoint, but the fact remains it goes completely downhill from there. Tricky’s attempt for radio-friendly love-making with Ed Kowalczyk is disturbing in “Evolution Revolution Love”. Two distinct, no wait, three distinct voices accompanied on the "Evolution Revolution Love". Those voices being Thawes (Tricky), Kowalczyk, and Hawkman. Back and forth they just keep going as the hole just gets deeper. I’ll tell you one thing; the bass may be the best part as little of it as you hear.
The problem doesn’t stop there. The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Frusciante may add nice guitar work, but Kiedis and Tricky just don’t meld. The lyrical content is hilarious on “Girls”. You just need to listen to it to really appreciate its failures as Frusciante, Kiedis, and Tricky all add their vocals to the track. “#1 Da Woman” isn’t as cluttered as their previous addition to the song, but it’s just the same. Oh right, also Hawkman contributes on more than one track. Sadly, only one of those tracks is actually worthy of your attention. “Diss Never (Bury The Evidence)” is entertaining as it as hyperactive. Despite it not allowing me to interpret most of what the mighty Rastafarian is saying it really doesn’t matter because it’s just an enjoyable listen, the production really masks the lack of understandable content. The best moments from this album come from Tricky’s best track that adds a rock-oriented atmosphere with Hawkman in the background, that track being “Bury The Evidence”.
What was most important on all his previous endeavors for Tricky was a strong female contributor and besides McKay’s excellent outing on “Excess” the album is void of anything comparable to her or his longtime companion Martine Topley-Bird. Songs like “You Don’t Wanna” or “Your Name” are either lacking true soul or range, they feel so manufactured it’s just disappointing to say the least. What we see before us lays a terrible decision on Tricky’s part. An album that’s trying to be something it shouldn’t be – radio friendly to feed the masses. Firstly, it utterly failed in the U.S. and was his lowest album to debut on the U.K. charts. This would be a signal to all of his fanbase that Tricky’s growth would go in the entirely wrong direction. Besides “Excess”, “Diss Never (Dig Up We History), “Five Days” and “Bury The Evidence” ’Blowback’
is full of moments that encapsulates the failures of trying to be something Tricky surely is not. Even a fantastic cover of Nirvana’s “Something In The Way” graces our ears. That was a joke.