trip-hop False Idols Tricky False Idols/!K7 Records ★★★★✩

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Sarah Elks

TRICKY reck­ons he fi­nally has his groove back. If the 10th solo stu­dio al­bum from the vet­eran triphop pi­o­neer is any­thing to go by, he may just be right. The Bris­tol na­tive helped define the sound of 1990s dark club­land elec­tron­ica with his de­but disc Max­in­quaye, re­leased halfway through that decade. It was spare, el­e­gant and men­ac­ing. A surg­ing, pul­sat­ing beat ebbed be­low ethe­real vo­cals from Tricky’s then-love Martina To­p­leyBird. Tricky him­self, a found­ing mem­ber of sem­i­nal Bris­tol band Mas­sive At­tack, added his trade­mark whis­per-sung lyrics and tipped in sam­ples galore. The com­bi­na­tion worked; crit­ics and club­bers re­joiced. Since then, Tricky has been a vic­tim of his own early suc­cess, try­ing but fail­ing to match the raw bril­liance of that first ef­fort — un­til now. False

Idols is the long-promised re­turn to form from the 45-year-old mu­si­cian. Un­sur­pris­ingly, it sounds like Max­in­quaye, and that’s a blessed thing. That driv­ing base­line beat has reap­peared, ac­com­pa­nied by oc­ca­sional strings, horns and pi­ano. Tricky has re­placed To­p­ley-Bird with the raven-haired, sul­try-voiced Francesca Bel­monte as his go-to fe­male vo­cal­ist. The rel­a­tively un­known Bel­monte fea­tures on 10 of the al­bum’s 15 tracks, while Peter Sil­ber­man — front­man of Brook­lyn’s the Antlers — adds his haunting falsetto to first sin­gle Paren­the­sis, the record’s ballsi­est track. Tricky’s own sexy yet threat­en­ing mur­mur again punc­tu­ates pro­ceed­ings to great, and of­ten creepy, ef­fect. The al­bum sounds rest­less, un­set­tled but some­how self-as­sured. As Tricky has mused: ‘‘ I was lost for ages . . . this al­bum is about me find­ing my­self again.’’

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