Having spent almost two decades running away from his musical past, the former Massive Attack rapper Adrian “Tricky” Thaws finally revisits the sultry, slinky, softly menacing trip-hop sound that he pioneered on his hugely acclaimed 1995 solo debut, Maxinquaye.
Tricky’s furtive whisper is a ghostly presence throughout False Idols, with lead vocals mostly handled by female guests including the German-Nigerian soul siren Nneka Egbuna on the majestic doomed-love anthem Nothing Matters and the Anglo-Asian singer Fifi Rong on the gorgeous, woozy, chiming ballad Chinese Interlude.
Reviving a familiar Tricky trademark of lacing tracks with lyrical fragments from other songs, the opening number Somebody’s Sins is a skeletal torch song featuring a bluesy vocal by Francesca Belmonte, which recycles the opening line from Patti Smith’s celebrated version of Van Morrison’s Gloria. Meanwhile, Valentine features a looped sample from the jazz legend Chet Baker’s My Funny Valentine.
A little too dependent on repetitive grooves rather than fully finished songs, False Idols is no Maxinquaye, but it is Tricky’s most polished and consistently listenable album for years.
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