False Idols

[False Idols]

It’s been 18 years since Tricky released Maxinquaye, the trip-hop masterpiece that expanded that genre’s parameters. Nine albums later, he’s still trying to top it. The British producer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist named his second album Pre-Millennium Tension, and he’s been working that theme, more or less, ever since.

False Idols hits all the usual signposts: densely layered beats, gritty dance rhythms, scratchy electronics and deep, dark ambient tones. Plus, the barely whispered vocals of singers seemingly one bong hit away from nodding off. Opener “Somebody’s Sins” borrows its first line from Patti Smith’s “Gloria,” swapping poetic heft for simmering menace. “Parenthesis” transports Brooklyn rockers the Antlers to the outer rim of doomsday. And on the skittering “Nothing’s Changed,” Tricky underscores singer Fran Belmonte, who guests throughout. In other words, not much has changed since Maxinquaye. But the pre-millennium tension doesn’t hold quite the same nervous energy 13 years into the new century. –Michael Gallucci


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