February 18, 2010


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Massive Attack, Heligoland
Virgin Records, Feb. 9

Whether or not this is the marquee-name-ruined disaster that Pitchfork’s expecting (it’s not, and will they ever shut up ruining everyone’s good time, so what if Portishead completely rules and Burial hasn’t done his wizzer-keen dubstep remix of this album yet), this British soundsystem does take long vaykays between albums. Their last LP, 100th Window, for cripes sake, came out when a few non-cretins among us were still unsure Iraq was a lie. But it’s been time well spent, if you’ll pardon that bummer of a reviewer cliché, and besides, I’ve only had this thing in my ears for like four listens, so any letter-grade given below has by now probably changed to an A+ (it keeps getting better).

Mezzanine gave us unforgettable songs, including the one even your mom knows (“Teardrop,” the theme from TV’s House), and Heligoland will be unforgettable for different reasons, perhaps the Gnarls-as-Lucifer-like plodder “Splitting the Atom” or the hearing-test-pattern synth of “Flat of the Blade” (pure IDM-for-the-head there, with Guy Garvey mumble-crooning lines that appear to belong on some other joint). 3D is his usual irresistibly Davy Jones-ish self on “Rush Minute,” this outing’s reply to “Inertia Creeps.” Overall, the crew has deepened the creepy-eerie feel of the last two records, dispensed with the chicken-rattle stuff and gone a bit glum (fittingly so, being that they know what time it is; some non sequiturs about the bank bailouts peer out from the murk). AEWS