New tunes from the man Tricky himself! Skilled Mechanics is titled for a certain kind of CIA assassin (not, as I’d hoped, in tribute to some guys who fixed his car), a theme which suits Tricky’s brand of shuffling paranoia. As usual, he pulls in a range of vocalists to help him craft his world, including Chinese producer Ivy 艾菲. Out on !K7.
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Imagine how anticipated this would be if Tricky hadn't made a record since 'Maxinquaye'? As it is it has almost completely under the radar this week and only got noticed when I was clearing out the bottom of the review box. As often with Tricky it's collab heavy with a half the worlds music population involved at some point.
Initial listens are positive though, opener 'I'm Not Going' is ...get this...really good. A sultry female vocal moans over an eerie grungy guitar riff. You can just hear Tricky's voice in the background whispering away. He can do it, he can still do it but can he do it across an entire album? Weeell. 'Don't Go' is rather good with some churning vocals - I really like this whispered vocal style Tricky uses here, it's disconcerting an eerie and you listen hard to pick out each word. On some songs Tricky just grumbles beneath the lead vocalist. 'Diving Away' built around some sad sounding xylophone and is actually, improbably a Porno for Pyros cover. Who else would do that?
The album centrepiece is 'Boy' - a harder edged piece with an amazing autobiographical lyric inspired by Tricky recently re-visiting his childhood home and having an asthma attack. I really like the minimalism of these tracks, at times stripped down to a synth and vocal.
The downside is that between great tracks there are plenty of filler 'Bother' is bit too Adele for consumption and 'Hero' has slinky electronics without real hooks to grab onto. 'Hows Your Life' is based around a gorgeous sample from Larry Carlton's 'High Steppin' and just falls short of being a Brit paranoid take on G funk.
Overall though his is the best Tricky album I've heard for years - he's in understated form but it suits him. Maybe we should appreciate him more.
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