first thing is, this is not, on the surface, and despite, the usual hype,
that different to Tricky's 'difficult' recent albums. It is not trip hop.
It is not 'Maxinquaye'.
Opener 'Excess' will be familiar to those who've stuck with Tricky (1998's
'Angels With Dirty Faces' remaining a nightmarish masterpiece) as he's
become increasingly written off as a has-been with a bad attitude. It is
a uniquely mutated rock with pianos, guitars and rhythmic effects assembled
via hip-hop's collage technique; arrange imagery in Tricky's asthmatic
whisper contrasted with Alanis Morissette's (strictly non-yodeling) girly
chorus. The difference- the crucial difference- lies in emphasis, mood,
and production. Everything is less murky. It glides rather than churns.
Your ears are caught by the line 'Now I'm making hits from my child-bearing
hips', and you realize that his surreal androgyny is back and the misogynist
thug of 'Juxtapose' has thankfully gone. But mostly you realize that Tricky
is aware that we're here. Adrian Thaws has stopped accidentally letting
us eavesdrop while he beats himself to death.
All the guest vocalists excel, including Cyndi Lauper and blockey out of
the execrable Live, and especially reggaeish new discovery Hawkman. The
funk-metal tracks with Red Hot Chili Peppers are- whisper it- fun. The
darker, slower tracks are absorbing and hypnotic, giving glimpses of mysterious
corners you want to explore further with each listen; and 'Evolution Revolution
Love' and 'Give It To Them' are immediately fantastic, as is 'Your Name',
which is sweet and touching and reveals a hitherto unknown Tricky fondness
for the corny bits of old Steve Martin movies. There is much great writing
from a female perspective.
is back, and this time - it's personable.