Portishead
Portishead


3.5
great

Review

by Ben Thornburgh CONTRIBUTOR (113 Reviews)
November 19th, 2013 | 10 replies | 2,109 views


Release Date: 1997 | Tracklist

Review Summary: For Tomorrow: A Guide to Contemporary British Music, 1988-2013 (Part 33)

Geez, I thought Dummy was a cold album. Apparently Portishead spent the interim between their first and second albums in Siberia with a couple canisters of liquid nitrogen handy because Portishead has ice sliced in its veins. Beth Gibbons in particular sounds like she’s crunching icicles between her teeth here, singing with enough chilly menace and venom to make Dummy look like an Aruba getaway. Portishead’s self-titled sophomore effort finds the band rising from their depressed stupor and advancing on their foes with teeth bared.

If Dummy emphasized bass to make loneliness feel plush, Portishead uses treble to mimic it’s knife edge. “Cowboys” makes Portishead’s newfound sense of aggression crystal clear from second one as an ominous sample spells doom long before the singing starts. "Did you sweep us far from your feet?/Reset in stone this stark belief,” seethes Gibbons, “Salted eyes and a sordid dye/Too many years.” She renders each word in a hissing accent, each word escapes her teeth like she’s been planning every letter from a prison cell. “Only You” finds Gibbons huffing the oh so Portisheady “We suffer every day/What is it for?/These crowns of illusion are fooling us all”. Portishead features a greater use of self sampling - which is the band making music, laying it to tape, and sampling it – than Dummy, lending the album a further sense of icy detachment due to its samples not existing outside the album.

Although Portishead benefits from having a clear songwriting focus it wants for the standout singles of Dummy and feels flatter as a result. Without an “It Could Be Sweet” or “It’s a Fire” as a reprive from the metallic heartbreak, Portishead can become tiring around the midway mark. Nonetheless, Portishead is a solid entry into the fascinating subgenre of trip-hop, a genre that would see one more defining work before the end of the decade.



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user ratings (657)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
SigismundFreudian (5)
Portishead takes us on a Space Odyssey....

Michael Freitag (4)
A solid Trip Hop album with many interesting and memorable songs. Beth Gibbons melts the listener's ...

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Comments:Add a Comment 
HolidayKirk
Contributing Reviewer
November 19th 2013



1614 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Full series: http://badgersenate.com/

New review every Tuesday and Thursday

Twittuh: https://twitter.com/HolidayKirk
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/ben.thornburgh


Relinquished
November 19th 2013



24922 Comments


missing an quotation at the beginning of the first lyric mention

oltnabrick
November 19th 2013



30618 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Best Portishead

Digging: Volcanic Queen - Sullen Empire

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
November 19th 2013



3442 Comments


mimic it’s knife edge.


otherwise ace review

sapient
November 20th 2013



1943 Comments


Good review as usual, been meaning to get into Portishead, but not sure whether to start at here or at Dummy

sapient
November 20th 2013



1943 Comments


Btw, the comment at the end, is a review of Homogenic in store?

HolidayKirk
Contributing Reviewer
November 20th 2013



1614 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sorry, she's from Iceland. I do want to do that album justice one day though.

sapient
November 20th 2013



1943 Comments


Ahhh true true. I was more so thinking about how it could be considered a defining trip-hop record, and I know she lived in the UK for awhile, but you're right

ProfessorVeerappan
November 21st 2013



790 Comments


Reviewer you made me get this album today...
as i hear the songs i sense this moving into something which is immensely the unknown..
there is nothing great about the album besides the name of the artist the Build-up of their First album..
okay album...


TWIGtheWONDERKID
November 21st 2013



743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I love this album. I really like the way they added menace to the mix, but I guess it's not for everyone. You did a great job describing the atmosphere; with Portishead it’s all about the atmosphere.

Digging: The Auteurs - New Wave



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