Pre-Millenium Tension



by Ben Thornburgh CONTRIBUTOR (151 Reviews)
October 22nd, 2013 | 7 replies

Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist

Review Summary: For Tomorrow: A Guide to Contemporary British Music, 1988-2013 (Part 25)

In 1996, Tricky was a star. After being the odd man out in Massive Attack for so long, Maxinquaye arrived on a thunderstorm of hype and debuted at number 3 on the UK album charts. His distinct sense of style and outspoken, quote ready way with interviews turned Tricky from gutter nothing to the guy who was invited to all the cool parties. Fame also seems to have torpedoed Tricky’s sense of quality control. Where Maxinequaye was a tightly controlled piece of industrial machinery, Pre-Millennial Tension is a black sprawl in serious need of some editing.

Pre-Millennial Tension spews the same sample heavy brew that powered Maxinquaye, but where that record felt powered by a deep desire to prove all of Tricky’s doubters firmly wrong, Pre-Millennial Tension doesn’t seem to have a purpose at all. Much of it seems hell bent on conjuring up the same sticky stillness of heroin, most of these songs start at 5 and finish around 5.1. Even when Tricky is aggressive (“Tricky Kid”) or trading rapid fire verses with Martina Topley Bird (Eric B & Rakim cover ”Lyrics of Fury”) the songs still cant break out of an all encompassing black tar stillness. A few tracks hint at the engagingly druggy vibe that Tricky was aiming for here. Opener “Vent” rolls and crashes over tumbling drums and Tricky’s teeth gritting harmony with Martina, “Can’t hardly breathe.” The ethereal “Makes Me Wanna Die” slowly drifts through the haze like a bird disappearing over the horizon. But these moments are rare and not nearly bright enough to pull the record through its endless back half.

”My defenses/Become fences”

There is the possibility of a great album in here though. I say that almost exclusively because of “Christiansands”, which is so good it immediately divorces itself from the rest of the album. From it’s opening tough as nails drum break to that blooming bass line it’s clearly the product of what happens when Tricky sits down and just focuses. It creates and sustains a fierce groove for its entire duration with Tricky and Topley Bird just vamping over the top of it. “And you think I’m fake up/Wait around till I take off my makeup,” Tricky growls with a distinctive rasp in his throat. “Christiansands” is so good it’s almost frustrating amidst its wispy surroundings.

Following the release of Pre-Millennial Tension Tricky spent the remainder of the decade and the following releasing records to increasing disinterest from the public. The man born Adrian Thaws wound up a slave to expectations he created on his debut album, a promise he could never quite fulfill.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
Contributing Reviewer
October 22nd 2013


Album Rating: 3.0

Full series:

New review every Tuesday and Thursday

Green Baron
October 22nd 2013


haven't seen one of these in a while

October 22nd 2013


Album Rating: 4.0

Not entirely agreed with the last sentence, while for those fans who only looked toward Maxinquaye for their Tricky fix, and those expecting for him to keep dishing out the same are a bit ignorant. Tricky has had a wide amount of influences in his music, but Maxinquaye was so damn amazing that many wanted more of the same. His last two releases Mixed Race and False Idols have definitely brought him up to speed in terms of the kind of quality he can deliver. I would contend that Angels With Dirty Faces (his next release after this) was his last solid work until Mixed Race came out in 2010, which is an amazingly abysmal amount of music in between, Blowback, Vulnerable, and Knowle West Boy.

Contributing Reviewer
October 22nd 2013


Album Rating: 3.0

Its not that Tricky failed to make another Maxinquaye. If anything, I applaud the guy for being so eager to get away from

that record. Tricky failed to make another album that felt like a statement. Thats what's so missed from the rest of his

catalogue, a feeling of purpose. He's either aimless or a ghost in his own machine. It's definitely ignorant to expect Tricky

to make more Maxinquayes, but it isn't ignorant to want him to sound inspired again.

False Idols is pretty good though. I hope he builds off its momentum.

May 7th 2014


Album Rating: 4.0

I actually dig the vibe that Tricky cultivates on this one.

Digging: The Cure - The Head on the Door

July 22nd 2014


Album Rating: 4.0

It's a mongrel rage

It's a new age

As long as you're humble

Let you be the king of jungle

We run everything

Always and ever

Has been has been

Heard there's german-jamaicans

With twisted faces

Same as it ever was

Tell me what the race is

It's surreal

They're not real

I put them on their places


August 20th 2015


Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, I agree Maxinque is a more complete thought and satisfying total product perhaps, but this is the album where i feel like he cooked up his stew the spiciest. I'd rather listen to this one, and I think it actually unravelled a little (just a little) for him after this one, not before

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