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Portishead: Third

Portishead's [Third](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_(Portishead_album%29) album completely recreates what they were meant to be. Their second album was frankly disappointing: it was the first album again, but with the subtlety removed. It was stuck within the clich├ęs that Portishead laid around themselves through the success of the first album. The third album destroys all of that and rebuilds it from the ground up, with added weird noise built into the foundations.

Take the very start of the record: a harsh distorted foreign radio presenter tells us something, I don't know what, and then a rhythm starts - but then guitar echoes come in, aggressively out-of-time with the beat, trying to start a fight with the beat, kick it over. And Beth Gibbons' singing in the same as it ever was, but laid on a chord progression that is weirdly rootless, never resolving but never wrong.

The album is full of moments like that, all the Portishead elements still there but rebuilt with aggressive experiment. There's a moment where a song stops for a jaw-dropping solo consisting of ten seconds of skronking bassoon noise, richocheting off a brick wall of an echo, and then it slides into the rest of the song, and it works perfectly.

I'm writing this in a notebook a long way away from my copy of the album but it's an album that you can't forget. It makes previous Portishead seem kind of narrow, coy, and this time they've come out into the open.

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