- Release date:
- April 29, 2008
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Why you should care: Whatever the reasons for their extended disappearance, make no mistake: Portishead is back on "Third," and just as invested in turning convention on its head. The chopper blades slicing the otherwise head-bobbing snares of "Plastic" into snippets are more destabilizing than dance-oriented. The opener "Silence" is the fastest thing they've ever done, a mashed guitar gallop that unwinds for two minutes before Gibbons' ethereally sad vocals finally tear it to pieces. If this is the kind of compelling sonics their indefinite hiatuses produce, Portishead can stay away all they want.
Verdict: "Third" bookends Portishead's trilogy so far perfectly. It's creepy enough to keep the lovelorn nostalgia buffs happy, especially on the atmospheric dirge of "Hunter" or the disembodied thump of the cold, weird "Nylon Smile." Even the stubborn, robotic stomp of "We Carry On" or militant noise of "Machine Gun" pays dividends after repeat listens, even as they push the hesitant listeners away. By the time you get to the always reliable Portishead closer, this time an epic climax called "Threads," you've been through the sonic spectrum—and the wringer. It's a torturous trip seriously worth the taking.
X-Factor: Before Portishead, Geoff Barrow made his name as a remix producer for tracks by Primal Scream, Depeche Mode and more.