Thirteen can be unlucky for some, but for Tricky it seems to be a number that embraces him. Free of his previous debts, he jumps around genres adding his unique sound to new concepts, to make music that sounds instantly iconic. His sense of artistic freedom is utterly refreshing on this record as he brings out a few of his best tracks in years. While tracks are individually strong for most of the record, there’s a definite lack of cohesion on the whole that will make listens jarring at times. The album may also prove to be one of those records that will require repeat listens to get over some of the initial aesthetics and changes.
With a dark mysticism, “Obia Intro” starts the record on a dark mix of loose vocals and a strange foreboding mix of sounds. The overall menacing tone the whole intro leaves is one that sets the stage for a record that isn’t just here for some laid-back pop.
After some trippy vocal sampling turned into a dance hook, “Same As It Ever Was” turns into a dark and dirty sounding rap track. Even if the opening isn’t heavy enough for some, the way the track descends into brash and loud chorus makes it even more eccentric and fun, not unlike the latest Gorillaz record. Utterly catchy, “New Stole” lets Francesca Belmonte’s vocals play out like the best sample remix, while being a completely new creation. With Tricky’s light additions and the overall flow of the song, it really feels like a lost classic.
Taking the ambient slow-burning of the XX, “Wait For Signal” brings a strong duet between Tricky and Asia Argento, as their vocals have the strange ability to each take leads while being constantly running side-by-side. While a strong mood-piece, it does however feel like it never moves beyond its verses. “It’s Your Day” is a heavy-hitting track that seeks to motivate through a mix of fear and reality as Tricky reaches his most demonic to send out a message.
“Blood of my Blood” brings a breathy, human tone to its sound as Scriptonite ups some of the song’s pop quotient. A brilliantly cutting but catchy pop track, it’s both extremely entrancing while very earnest and personal. Taking the dance-alternative route on “Dark Days,” Tricky enlists the help of Mina Rose to make a strong bit of EDM magic that’s short and to the point. Rose’s poetic lyrics give a nice contrast to the raw instrumentation to make a song that feels both deep and exuberant.
There’s an early 2000’s alt-pop tone to the “Only Way” in its weirdly small and claustrophobic production. Mixing this closeness with bits and pieces of even older instrumentation, and Tricky’s own twisted lyrics make the track a standout. Terra Lopez is a commanding voice of power on “Armor,” as she controls over the evil sounding beats and ominous space in the track. This along with some of the other vocalist focused tracks on the record, really shows how strong Tricky has become as a producer and shows promise if he decides to make a go of it on the side.
Smoky production makes the creamy vocals of “Doll” come through with a mixed sense of longing and pain, giving the feeling that both parties in his relationship went wrong. Avalon Lurks ability to communicate this in her delivery while the sparse instrumentation drives it, makes another strong single for the record. There’s definitely a hard left turn into the Russian rapping of Smoky Mo on “Bang Boogie” that has this feeling even more like a collection of songs rather than an album. While a short and fun song, it does feel hilariously out of place, especially being the only track that isn’t in English and is sandwiched between two more instrumentally based tracks.
“Running Wild” marks another track of complex relationships, that dances between delicate treble in its verses and smothering bass in its choruses. Showcasing the range of emotions, Rose works with the production well to bring out the track’s full range of feeling well. Closing on a hip hop lean, “When We Die” finds Tricky reuniting with Martina Topley-Bird for the first time on a track in over a decade, and nothing’s changed. Abele to bring the grit and softness with an amazing sense of synergy, the two close the record on one of the most sonically rich tracks of the record.
Words by Owen Maxwell
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