Monday, Nov. 03, 2008

Third by Portishead

After a 10-year hiatus, Bristol's once famous trip-hop trio returned with an album that was less accessible — and far prettier — than their previous work. Packed with a Portuguese soliloquy, austere Krautrock rhythms and muscular synthesizer melodies, the first half-hour is more impressive than lovable. Then the ukuleles begin. It sounds like a joke at first, but "Deep Water" gives Beth Gibbons the chance to sing her wounded heart out and create a little island of prettiness that blooms into more prettiness the rest of the way. Third takes multiple listens to crack, but it rewards patience with a textured majesty.

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