Portishead - Third

Third is the most frightening record you'll hear all year, infused with dread and danger at every other turn

Album Review by Ally Brown | 01 Apr 2008
  • Third
Album title: Third
Artist: Portishead
Label: Universal
From the rolling krautrock groove of opener Silence, it's clear Portishead haven't been sitting on their hands in the 11 years since their last album. Critics of their self-titled second record alleged that it sounded too similar to the first, but that was just Portishead's distinctive style. Third is a leap away from that second album, as would be hoped for with a recording so long in the making, but the truly shocking thing is that Third doesn't disappoint after such a gestation. Anything but, in fact.

In the ensuing decade Portishead have ditched the decks, which means the crackling jazz samples and lounge sensibilities are out. Instead, they've focussed on their strength, as the second LP indicated they knew - weaving creepy soundscapes for Beth Gibbons to dramatise over. The result is the most frightening record you'll hear all year, infused with dread and danger at every other turn: from the sense of siege created in Plastic by the to-and-fro of a chopping helicopter effect, to We Carry On's robotic marching, to the ensuing epic battle depicted in Machine Gun. Closing track Threads builds unease from a straining violin line, until Gibbons' vocals are overwhelmed by the impending threat; the climax, as booming foghorns announce doom's arrival, will leave you breathless. [Ally Brown]
Release Date: 28 Apr
Portishead play The Corn Exchange, Edinburgh on 12 Apr http://www.portishead.co.uk