Some day, you will know deep down that there's no hope. Some
day you will miss the train, you will spill coffee down your shirt,
you will get an email from someone you love too much saying goodbye
forever. Some day you will wish you could take whatever twisted
remnants remain of the dreams you once had and drown them in a
icy stream so they may torture you no longer.
And that day, something will save you. And forever after, you
will look back at that mysterious something which turned it all
around, that kept you away from all sharp objects and gave you
the presence of mind to take a single step out of the shadows.
It's been three years since Portishead granted us separate reality
from the one that threatened to destroy even our hearts. But perfection
is not easy to come by, and when you're setting the standard by
which all other avant-pop measures itself, it's an even more daunting
endeavor. Add ubiquitous "Album of the Year" accolades
for your first attempt, and realize that the pressure to succeed
could wreak utter havoc on the creative process. And might even
be your band's undoing.
Such is the Portishead tale. The fires burned, the anvil was
hammered, and the Bristol, U.K., band has emerged with molten
gold. The spirits of Dummy haunt the band's eponymously titled
second release, but the experience and the years have left their
indelible mark. Nevermind the overused and abused trip-hop moniker,
you have never heard anything like this. Not in dreams, not in
nightmares, not on any chemical-induced high. Not even in the
throes of passion has any note quite dug deep into your soft self
and touched your soul.
Beth Gibbons is a mythical Siren, astounding and confounding
your senses, her otherworldly crooning giving Portishead its very
seductive essence. Mix her mesmerizing voice with the strength
and brass of big band beats, and you get the hit single "All
Mine." And, you get something you will never be able to describe
in mere words to anyone. They must experience it for themselves.
Offer up Geoff Barrow's new vocal peaks and troughs. Share the
telltale shivers that "Elysium" will induce. Know that
the path through "Morning Air" will be both difficult
and unexpected. Stop, lie down, breathe, and let your blood be
controlled by "Half Day Closing."
Here, in the tangled beats and hypermelodies, is infinite sadness.
And infinite joy. And without this record, you might miss the
chance to glimpse another universe. Or to hear a shooting star.