8.5
Music  |  Reviews

Massive Attack: Heligoland

[EMI/Virgin]

February 12, 2010  |  9:00am
Massive Attack: <em>Heligoland</em>

New, hushed direction speaks volumes

Heligoland—like its 2003 predecessor, 100th Window—steers far from what Massive Attack first pioneered as trip-hop. “Pray for Rain” only catches a glimpse of light, with TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe harmonizing before sinking back into its melancholic contemplation. Brass notes resound throughout, as mournful as a Dixieland funeral. And even the handclaps on “Paradise Circus” relinquish their volume to a hushed message: “The devil makes us sin / But we like it when we’re spinning in his grin.” Instead of reintroducing the genre’s founding dub steps and club sensibilities, contributions from Massive Attack’s musical descendants (Blur/Gorillaz mastermind Damon Albarn, Portishead’s Adrian Utley) lend quieter atmospherics that amplify the emotion of the band’s mainstay whispers. Less a depiction of the surrounding apocalypse, Heligoland is more a reflection of the anxieties within.

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