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Tricky - False Idols

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Artist: Tricky

Album: False Idols

Label: False Idols

Review date: May. 22, 2013

Tricky says, “[False Idols] is about me finding myself again … [bringing me] back to my natural instincts," in a much-cited interview with Primary Talent. He goes on to say, “musically it is a better album,” referencing his incomparable debut, Maxinquaye. Many reviewers are quoting this interview for gospel, but it’s a hard sell after the first couple of listens. Musically, the argument is a non-starter.

In contrast to Maxinquaye’s ultraviolet dreamy squats and deadpan weirdness, False Idols intentionally depicts a greying hyperrealism – the struggle of forgotten people, forced to scratch it out in towers unfit for human existence. Their lives are devoid of pleasure, worshipping at the thrones of fame they will never know and barely understand. In this post-millennial world, love, celebrity and faith are all rendered meaningless and consumable; or if you ask Tricky “a lot of bollocks, mate.”

One of the singles, “Does it,” bemoans our collective malaise with a handclap beat and pummeling bass. Tricky doesn’t just sample The Ropes’ “Love is a Chain Store,” he has vocalist Francesca Belmonte cover the chorus. This kind of laziness permeates throughout the album. The first track, “Somebody’s Sins,” again covers a chorus, Patti Smith’s “Gloria.” Tricky also resurrects Chet Baker’s melancholy croon for “Valentine.” By now, we know Baker’s masterful rendition is a bit blue;, but replaying the same unaltered sample over some sorrowful purr about an ill-fated girl seems an unnecessary homerun.

It’s not all bad news and background bongos at your yuppie hair salon. While still a cover, the lead single “Parenthesis,” featuring the hauntingly glorious pipes of The Antlers’ Peter Silberman, definitely stands out. Tricky’s rasp joins Silberman’s soaring and crystalline voice to create a vocal texture you can almost reach out and touch. Paired with an ominous thrashing funk-metal riff, it’s simple, mercifully short and barely strays from the original. Two other tracks worthy of mention are “Bonnie and Clyde” and “Is That Your Life,” both cinematically dire tales of errant youths. The latter’s Knife-esque sample is too catchy for its own good, so be sure to enjoy a few listens before it becomes a Mazda commercial.

As a fan from way back in the Blue Lines era, this reviewer still wholeheartedly encourages all to avoid the Massive Attack forum on this album - listen and appreciate False Idols for all it has to offer. False Idols could have been impressive and believable at fewer than a dozen tracks, but nine of the 15 seem insufferably lazy. This, coupled with a complete lack of readily accessible information concerning collaborators, and the inexplicably twee recital that is “Chinese Interlude” on side two, it’s all too frustrating to enjoy.

By Erin Leigh Zimman

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