Tricky
False Idols


4.0
excellent

Review

by Hernan M. Campbell STAFF
May 30th, 2013 | 58 replies


Release Date: 05/27/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: One of Tricky's finest albums since the '90s.

While discussing the musical direction that would be taken in his latest album, Tricky confessed that False Idols wouldn't be so much a progression in sound, as it would be a regression to his roots. In other words, rather than following along the increasingly erratic path he's taken since Blowback, Tricky, now a trip-hop legend who feels as if he's been “lost for ages,” has decided to travel back in time and reconnect with the clever visionary that composed 1995's Maxinquaye. Though interestingly enough, the sole concept behind False Idols isn't so much to replicate the sound of Maxinquaye, but to re-write its blueprints and introduce a 'modernized' Bristol sound to a new generation. The atmosphere still emanates the obsessively dark and spaced-out feel of trip-hop, but the feeling of escapism in the music and Tricky's dadaist-like arrangement of beats are generally compromised and condensed in length for instant lucidity. Musically, False Idols is regarded, by Tricky himself, as a better album than Maxinquaye. And while, I, and most fans for that matter, will hesitate to agree with that statement, False Idols contains such an impeccable balance of vibrant melodicism and clever songwriting, that with each repeated listen, his statement seems more often than not convincing.

Throughout the entirety of False Idols, we find Tricky operating quietly in the background and comfortably assuming the role of a composer. The majority of the vocal duties are actually handled by female singers Francesca Belmonte, Fifi Rong, and Nneka Egbuna, all of whom deliver exquisitely seductive croons in their respective tracks. "If Only I Knew" is perhaps the most beautifully sung piece from the album. It's a romantically centered song, focusing on the complex emotions that conjure up after a devastating heartbreak. Fifi Rong's voice is so ethereal here, yet mournful at the same time, the emotion in her singing is so sincere that you almost get the sense that she's about to succumb to tears in the end. Musically, there's an eclectic range of moods and sounds that are broken down and manipulated to formulate the classic, '90s Bristol trip-hop vibe. As exemplified by the minimalistic percussions in "Valentine", the bowed-string melody of "Nothing's Changed", and the funkier stylings in "Is That Your Life?", each song has its own individual blend of influences, but the album as a whole primarily derives its components from mellow rock grooves, breakbeats, dubby atmospherics, and clanking rhythms to thematically compliment whatever emotion or idea is being expressed through the lyrics. The mildly renditioned take on The Antler's "Parentheses" is one of the most ingeniously arranged compositions in False Idols, as it's been twisted into a more theatrically sinister piece than that of Burst Apart. The track fluctuates from a haunting calm to a guitar-driven assault, which does add to its suspenseful aura, but it's Peter Silberman's eerie falsetto that truly radiates an off-putting, yet oddly magnetic sound.

As previously mentioned, Tricky's vocals are scarce throughout the album, and more often than not, his voice is usually placed in the background to compliment the leads. "Passion Of The Christ" is one of his finest moments on the microphone, and his signature hush-sung vocals really helps accentuate the song's menacing ambience. The psychedelic influence is felt more intimately here, as Tricky manipulates an arabic-like soundscape to echo behind the pseudo hip-hop beat, thus giving "Passion Of The Christ" a hypnotic radiance. Much like the opening track, "Somebody's Sins", "Passion Of The Christ" also expresses a dissatisfaction with organized religion, as well as depicting an equally cynical view of humanity's sinful nature. "Somebody's Sins" gives a satirical portrayal of hedonistic lifestyles, one emphasized in lines like "Jesus died for someone's sins but not mine, […] My sins are my own, they belong to me". Rather than focusing on individuals, "Passion Of The Christ" looks out to the world as a whole, one plagued by violence and chaos. I was truly mesmerized by the lyrics in this track, particularly Tricky's exploration of Nietzschean ideology, in that our prayers for refuge remain unheard because our "God is real sick." A lot of the lyrical topics discussed in False Idols tend to borrow inspiration from existentialism and bohemianism, but there's also various nods to beatnik thematics, such as sexuality ("Valentine") and a nihilistic attitude towards life ("I'm Ready").

One of the biggest reasons that made me excited to get a hold of False Idols was hearing the way Tricky spoke about not only the album itself, but of his own career thus far. In an article with Clash, he talked about how he initially felt proud of his last two records, Knowle West Boy and Mixed Race, but eventually came to the realization that they weren’t very good (I personally disagree there). He also went on to confess that for a while he was trying to "prove something to people," that he was able to write music that pleased his fans, while still showcasing a level of creativity that satisfied his own artistic ambitions. And though he later professed that such a goal is "never going to work," he's actually managed to accomplish it here in False Idols. The musical style constantly nods to the mellow grooves and dark atmospheres that made Tricky fashionable in the '90s, though it's his ability to employ it in a modern way that makes the music so instantly engaging. The songwriting in False Idols is not all that concerned with complex tracks and unexpected musical turns, of course Tricky still devices a few clever hooks for auditory dazzle, but with a more compact and 'to-the-point' fashion. The emphasis of this album is not impress the listener with artsy maneuvering, but to simply entertain. In that sense, False Idols has the potential to be a more accessible and instantly enjoyable album than say, Maxinquaye, but because it's not as challenging to the experienced trip-hop fan, False Idols is also vulnerable of losing some of its captivating allure.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
May 30th 2013


4458 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm very much out of my element here with this one, I like my share fo trip-hop albums, but I really dont know much about he genre so this was a difficult album to talk about. I really want to get out of my comfort zones though, so I'm hoping to continue to explore different genres and styles.

Also please, if anyone has any advice or criticism to give, feel free to leave a comment. I'm very nervous about this one.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
May 30th 2013


24098 Comments


I think you did well. You avoided talking too much about genres so it just read like a review of an album you liked.

I still need to get to this, was listening to Maxinquaye earlier today

Digging: Mitski - bury me at makeout creek

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
May 30th 2013


4458 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks, Adrian. Yeah, I tried to avoid talking about things I didn't know (genre/terms), and just spoke about the album itself. We'll see what others think.

Here's a free stream:
http://www.npr.org/2013/05/19/184813703/first-listen-tricky-false-idols

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 30th 2013


31628 Comments


In other words, rather than following along the increasingly erratic path of he's taken since Blowback,


Lose "of"

Musically, False Idols was regarded, by Tricky's himself,


*Tricky

Digging: Theo Parrish - American Intelligence

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
May 30th 2013


4458 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Deviant.
Thanks for that, I need to proofread better. What did you think of it overall? Is it adequate?

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 30th 2013


31628 Comments


Yeah dude, you had nothing to worry about. Like Aids said, you didn't spend any significant amount of the write-up trying to be technical about genre specifications etc (which, if you're not familiar with you should always avoid); you just talked about the atmosphere of the album more so than the atmosphere an album of this genre is supposed to have. You described it well man

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
May 30th 2013


24098 Comments


Tricky's solo stuff has always struck me as perfect dinner party music. Is that just me? I feel like it could be a universal thing.

breakingthefragile
May 30th 2013


2966 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Awesome to see you stepping out of your comfort zone like this man. Review is
great, you've always had a real knack for describing trippy soundscapes with
intricate detail, and I feel you really showed with this review that you can apply that
trait when writing about a good variety of different music styles.

Digging: Molly Drake - Molly Drake

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
May 30th 2013


4458 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thank you, Dev. That means a lot. I really wanted to see what you thought of it more as you're very familiar with the genre. I've begun to admire trip-hop and electronic music recently, and it's something I'd like to get into more than I have. This would be one of my first steps into it. I'm glad it was okay.

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
May 30th 2013


4458 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Breaking
Thanks. some of my descriptions can be a little cheesy or tiring, so I've been slowly trying to be less adjective heavy and reading more to learn less wordy descriptions. Hopefully I hit good balance here.

@Aids
I've heard people say that about trip-hop songs, and how they were used as 'dinner party' songs in the 90s. To me the music doesn't quite fit that kind of atmosphere- I could be wrong.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
May 30th 2013


24098 Comments


man it makes me wanna break open a nice Shiraz and have a three-course meal over some light-hearted banter

Typhoner
May 30th 2013


900 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review. Although you might not know that much about trip hop, you enough about music in general to properly dissect the album. Trip hop is in essence an eclectic genre, so it can be approached from many directions. It's good to hear Tricky returns to his older style (although I really enjoyed Mixed Race, too), looking forward to hearing this.

Digging: Clarity - Infinite

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 30th 2013


7464 Comments


False Idols was due of the way Tricky spoke about

*because of the way...

Cool review Hernan. I think the album's quite good.

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
May 30th 2013


4458 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Typ
Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it. And yeah, I liked Mixed Race too, a lot of catchy songs on that one.

@Greg
Thanks, man. I really have to stop working on reviews at 4am, they're always filled with typos.

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
May 30th 2013


6515 Comments


This has gotten some really mixed reviews already. Still have to check it out, but I think I'll like it.

Good review man!

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
May 30th 2013


4458 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've seen that as well, but I honestly enjoyed it. I recommend "Parenthesis", "If Only I Knew", "Nothing's Changed", and "Passion Of The Christ" - those are I'd say the top 4 tracks.

SanguineCream
May 30th 2013


599 Comments


I've never heard a Tricky album as enjoyable as Maxinquaye. Really hoping i can get something out of this release.

ResidentNihilist
May 30th 2013


1189 Comments


Summary's too hyperbolic considering the rating. Good review though.

omnipanzer
May 30th 2013


21660 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Love me some Tricky, I hop I like it as much as you did. Maxinquaye is a classic of course but I thought Mixed Race was pretty damned good too.


Buying now

HolidayKirk
Contributing Reviewer
May 30th 2013


1675 Comments


I feel like we really want this to be better than it is



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