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It’s 1997 all over again

June 13, 2008

Over at a friend’s place the other week, we were listening repeatedly to a couple of the best albums of the last twelve months – by Portishead and Radiohead.

Now that’s a sentence that could easily have been used 11 years ago. Radiohead were riding high off their landmark OK Computer and Portishead had followed up their absurdly popular debut with a darker but equally brilliant disc, Portishead.

In 2008, we’ve got Radiohead’s In Rainbows, which I’ve talked about elsewhere, and Portishead’s long awaited Third. In the intervening years, Radiohead have put out three full lengths and a couple of other discs, while Portishead have been missing in action.

When you do something like disappear for a decade, you can either “reunite” and embark on a greatest hits type tour, or you can pretend you never really went away and take up where you left off. Portishead have taken the second approach – and pretty literally, because Third doesn’t really sound like it would have been out of place ten years ago. In fact, its none-more-dark reworking of the classic Portishead sound isn’t so different to what Massive Attack did with their sound on 1998’s Mezzanine.

It’s still made remarkable by Beth Gibbons’ heart-wrenching vocals and by some brilliant arrangements. Whatever year it is, it’s an album to get involved in.

Portishead – “The Rip”

Portishead – “Machine Gun”

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