I have been looking forward to listening to this album for a long time. Let me explain - when this first came out, I listened to it once and loved it. I thought it was fantastic, and then I never listened to it again. I cannot think for the life of me why I have avoided listening to Tricky since, but after hearing that he had a new album out, I thought it might be a good time to revisit where it all started. Tricky (also known as Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws) is an English musician/actor who started out in The Wild Bunch, which turned into Massive Attack. He left Massive Attack to release this album with his then girlfriend Martina Topley-Bird giving the main vocals on most of the tracks here. So has this album kept to the side for good reasons, or is it one that I should have been revisited earlier?
This is one of the albums that made me appreciate electronic music as opposed to electronic pop music that I had listened to as a kid. This had such a mature sound compared to other works. It was just like a bomb in my head, I was listening to Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and Iron Maiden - then this came and made me go off to other places. The mood is dark, incredible dark and it is not the easiest of albums to be honest. I think what attracted me to it (and possibly what made me steer slightly clear as well) is the fact it spoke to my teenage angst of despair and anger to such a degree that it made me want to turn it off a few times in listening to it again. This was no reflection on the music; it just took me back to a darker time in my life which I had no interest in going. Such is the power of this record that it imprinted itself onto my mind in that moment.
Now that I have gotten that negative piece out, I will do the positives. Holy fuck, this album is sooooooo good it hurts. Even with all the bad vibes I have from this (which is of my own making in my head), I cannot doubt the music. "Aftermath" is a haunting piece which bring all the elements I love of this album together, "Black Steel" is the most aggressive track here which drives the listener crazy with its funky bass line and gritty lyrics, "You Don't" with the most subtle of beginnings has the time to sink in and place subtle hooks into your soul which will stay there forever and the amazing bass line of "Feed Me" at the end of the album just nails this as one of the best debut to ever come out of the UK. However, I do feel that whilst Tricky has made a musical masterpiece here, it would have been for nought without the vocal performance of Martina Topley-Bird. She dominates the album, she is the all present and was his siren for so long for a good reason.
Now marking this album is hard for me due to the attachment it has to my teenage years, it feels too raw in my head. But I have to be practical here and judge the music on its own merits, not through the eyes of a stroppy teenager. This album needs to be listened to and if you have any interest in trip hop, you should already own this. I usually shy away from albums that get lots of praise, but this one deserves it. File under - Ohmygodhowfuckinggoodwasthat!!!!
9 out of ten - Almost perfect....Almost
You can purchase one of the versions of the album from Amazon here
You can visit the official Tricky website here
You can listen to the album here on Spotify
Here is the official video for "Hell Is Around The Corner"