There are certain groups of musicians that never get enough attention or exposure; groups that never have the opportunity to get to the true listeners because of popularity or genre affiliation. These groups of musicians are underrated by their very definition and deserve to heard, for both listener and creator. Portishead is one of these groups.
It has been ten years since their last effort and now Portishead comes back with sheer force with the haunting melodies and mechanical rhythms of “Third,” an album that is the sound of a group that did their very best to maintain foundations and at the same time make music that is not only good but purposeful.
“Third” is a mood album that on the surface seems to resonate some sort of melancholy. But once the listener has had the opportunity to sit down and give this album a thorough listen, they might begin to really appreciate the underlying themes and focus of “Third.”
The dark melodies and electronically diverse rhythms that dominate this record will make any good listener re-evaluate the split-hair differences that seem to define what people consider good music these days.
In a musical sense this not a step forward or a step back for Portishead. They were always one of those groups that earned the sentiment of the phrase “don’t fix it if isn’t broken.” “Third” gives a definitive testimony to that sentiment.
Songs like “Silence” and “Nylon Smile” create a sense of clear mystery for listeners that through hearing the music should spark the innate intrigue and question of most people. With lyrics like “Wounded and afraid, inside my head, falling through changes, did you know when you lost, did you know when I wanted,” create an indulgent ambience of obscurity that should get to most people on some subconscious level.
To accompany the solemn and beautifully sullen lyrics is the music that perfectly complements the lyrics. It is dark, eerie and at the same time too appropriate to deny. The lingering melodies should be off-putting to most people; it has the face value of a horror movie soundtrack and the skeletal composure of a Van Gogh painting.
“Third” is a dense mixture of simple sounds and chord changes that technically speaking are relatively simple on the surface. But when all the dots are put together, the simple sounds create a fusion of music that is complex and fundamentally superb.
Artists such as Portishead and the music that is featured on “Third” are hard to come by. The musicianship and lyrical drive that this album has to offer is too honest and candid to refute. Artists such as Portishead should not be disregarded just because of the machination of the music that they play. Rather it should be appreciated that musicians are pushing the limits of musical emotion and development, subsequently creating albums as frighteningly direct as “Third.”
For fans of Portishead, making an effort to buy and listen to this album should have been a clear-cut decision. This has been a long awaited album whose fruition was questioned for many years. There was a ten year time period between the last album, which was live, and “Third.” It seemed possible for a while that the making of “Third” may have never happened.
“Third” is a blessing to the world of music and simultaneously a gem for the fans of its respective genre. Portishead is an indisputable contribution and donation to those that are lacking in that much needed form of music that we like to refer to as timeless. Portishead is the kind of music that doesn’t just move you – it changes you without a word of warning.
For anybody that considers themselves a connoisseur of all forms of music, then I will be the first to say that “Third” is one of those albums that you should make an effort to admit into your personal collection, or at least listen to once so that it may haunt the very best of your dreams or lighten the very worst of your nightmares.