Review Summary: Are you gonna eat that?
Trip-hop pioneers Massive Attack are back with a not so massive attack, a 4-song EP titled Splitting the Atom
. Short and pithy, Splitting the Atom
is a nice snack, just enough to remind the music community that Massive Attack are still in the kitchen and brewing something, delicious or possibly disastrous. It’s definitely not a full meal, but Splitting the Atom
will have trip-hop fans and non-fans alike tongues dripping with anticipation due to the illustrious line-up of Martina Topley-Bird, Guy Garvey (Elbow), and Tunde Adebimpe (TV on the Radio). Unfortunately, Splitting the Atom
doesn’t turn out to be nearly as appetizing as it appears.
A dark and brooding opener, “Splitting the Atom” starts things somberly. A low-energy beat and a melancholy atmosphere are only reinforced by reggae veteran Horace Andy and his baritone voice in the chorus. “Splitting the Atom” is a great way to start the meal with its organ drone, even if it is a bit bitter. The next scrumptious little ditty en route is “Pray For Rain.” Tunde Adebimpe adds the vocals here, and the song is definitely a grower. A continuos keyboard and a more upbeat ambience are the main effects here, but Tunde’s vocals certainly add to the experience. Present enough to make himself known, yet subdued enough to let the music do the real speaking, Tunde strikes a fantastic balance. Though, the biggest blemish in this track is very indicative of Splitting the Atom
, it leads nowhere. There’s a slight build-up midway, but Massive Attack sound weary and seem to give up on that endeavor.
As for the remixes, little else can be said. Guy Garvey’s vocals on “Pray For Rain” are incredibly uninteresting, and once again the song loses itself and midway and follows the breadcrumb trail back towards boredom. Topley-Bird’s apperance on Splitting the Atom
in the form of “Psyche.” She croons over a slow, plodding beat with some beeps that tend to get a bit annoying, “I was set to fall in.”
The cooks don’t attempt a whole lot new on Splitting the Atom
. Instead, Massive Attack relies mostly on their tried and true sound. The addition of some stronger percussion and a more metallic sound add a little twist, but the recipe remains largely the same old recipe. A more subtle approach is present, but little else can be determined about Massive Attack’s next LP based on Splitting the Atom
. The chefs could have spiced things up a bit with some more exciting options, even a little more variety would have surely tingled palates. There’s some solid ideas here, mostly the collaboration with Tunde on “Pray For Rain,” but they could have taken a much more stimulating approach. Massive Attack sounds very tired and unexcited about the sound they’ve produced over and over. And if they can’t get excited, how do they expect us to?