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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Portishead

Third (Mercury/Island)

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  Third justifies its 11-year buildup in that it’s not the type of work you quickly digest before moving on to the next thing. Portishead’s bleak outlook and laser-like ability to hone in on human loneliness mean that you’re taking on the weight of the world when you listen to one of their records. That these records contain almost too much emotional energy to work out of your system is, of course, what makes the celebrated trip-hop trio so special. On Third, they take a quietly insistent approach instead of saturating you with gloom. The harrowing sadness remains, only now it’s blended into more non-melodic, mechanical atmospheres—and, in one case, a lovely, brittle Appalachian-styled sing-along. Give this one time.

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