Tricky has some big questions on his mind, and on his latest album False Idols, released on his own label of the same name, he concerns himself with searching for answers. It sees him returning to the dark Bristol Sound he made his name with, an exploration of alienation and disillusionment like much of his early output, and these themes seem to have kept their relevance in the digital age. Tricky's vocals sit in the background for much of the album, often letting his collaborators take the limelight, but when they do surface they're delivered with a hushed, world-weariness.
The album begins with Somebody's Sins, featuring the repeated phrase 'Jesus died for someone's sins, but not mine', looking at where people put their misplaced hopes, Tricky points his finger at the targets that hold us back. There is an anger submerged in the quiet vocals, a call for change maybe. Bonnie & Clyde and Is That Your Life take a surprisingly groovy direction, almost becoming danceable whilst still maintaining the soulful night time atmosphere that resides at the core of Tricky's sound. A couple of other tracks come close to having dance floor sensibilities such as Nothing Matters with its steady 4/4 beat, though its shrouded, sombre mood, surrounded by sparse horns and rising strings, stop it from taking off.
Showing his capabilities as a producer, Tricky showing a range of approaches, for the restless, skittering beat of Nothing's Changed to the down-tempo rhythm and cut up vocal sample deployed on Tribal Drums. Does It features Francesca Belmonte's intimate voice (which also features on Tribal Drums and Nothings Changed) as she sings 'Where are the protesters/The slogans and the signs?' filled with quiet frustration, a cry for protest and rebellion amongst the wrongs of the world and a derision of the modern apathy that lets them prevail.
Though not an outright criticism, some of the tracks like Valentine, If Only I Knew and I'm Ready could have come straight out of his mid 90's records and the occasional song, such as Chinese Interlude, feels aimless and fails to create the immersing mood of some of the stronger songs.
None of the tracks outstay their welcome, with the longest track coming in at just over three and a half minutes, though that does leave the feeling that some of the tracks could develop a little more, but the album is consistent, often reminiscent of his breakthrough album Maxinquaye. Though False Idols may not reveal all the answers Tricky is looking for. he shows his skill for capturing a certain sense of modern dissatisfaction with his music that few others can match.
Originally posted on figure8magazine.co.uk