when the bristol bacchanalia called trip-hop began in the late 80's, only those who saw their music as a natural evolution and not another top of the pop's utensil tried [vainly] to reject the title. Massive Attack, Portishead, Hooverphonic and others instead focused on the direction of the music itself as opposed to the path critics desired. but i don't think any artist severely augmented the reach and depth of trip-hop than Tricky. indeed, the genre itself lends itself to cool, academic conduct while Tricky's works have always focused on the haphazard, frantic, and demented. Tricky correctly stated that of all the artists today he's basically the only one who has his own style and unfortunately it's one he has tried vainly to shake.
his new work Vulnerable, as the title suggests, is meant to be a kind of disconnect from the expected. Tricky said he wanted to remove the stigma of his work being that of a 'Dark Prince' or 'Monster' and focus on his basic human qualities suffocated by the anvil of celebrity he has carried with him since his breakthrough debut, Maxinquaye. it must be noted that i don't give this record an 8 because he succeeds in articulating a new theme. we still get his disdain for record companies (['Ice Pick'] which is probably why he's switched so often) and attempts at fragility sound like rantings from a madman ('Dear God'). his work is still dark and brooding and i think it'd be best if he'd try to work with this fact than haplessly avoid it (as he did with the disappointing Blowback cd). but what Tricky *does* succeed at is creating a very satisfying hybrid between the claustrophobic romp of Nearly God and Angels With Dirty Faces and the haplessly clean fashion of Blowback. i was especially pleased that he chose Liz Constantine, a novice vocalist who Tricky worked with after she gave his drummer a demo after a concert in Italy. she conveys a very strong sense of decay, insurrection, and innocence all at the same time and presents us with a new interpretation (at one point she even starts rapping in Italian). Tricky also pulls off The Cure's 'Love Cats' with the same finesse as he pulled off Erik B. & Rakim's 'Lyrics of Fury' in Pre-Millenium Tension.
overall i'd say this is probably one of his better works and a proper return to form after the glossy exercise of Blowback. maybe on his next record he'll give up the beef with every damn record label that exists.