Disappointing fourth studio album from the supposed musical innovators. Full of...
Andy Puleston 2003-02-05
Oh dear. Regrettably, the latest offering from the new slim line Massive Attack falls way short of the spurious hype and their previous musical triumphs. The sense of event that the publicists like to attach to the release of each their albums has boiled down to little more than a giant poster campaign. With Mushroom out of the picture and Daddy G away on parent sabbatical, Robert Del Naja aka 3D is now the sole member ofa group which is both dwindling in numbers and, unfortunately, artistic flair. Musically the 'Attack' seem to be suffering a severe case of middle-age spread.
Not content with steering the sound east with swathes of Arabian strings and Saharanambience they (or should that be he?) have employed Sinead O'Connor as guest vocals not once but thrice. Why? Yes, she can warble away in her melancholic fashion but the positioning of the nutty priestess smacks of a lack of adventure or risk taking.
Massive Attack used to be adept at bringing lesser known vocalists in to the mainstream and making them shine. Miss O'Connor may need the work but listening to her pine for the slaughtered children on the hugely self indulgent "A Prayer For England" is tiresome whilst the debut single "Special Cases" does little to redeem these felonies.
Production-wise 100th Window is solid and occasionally sublime. The drum/bass relationships are all expertly executed and the tracks are mixed beautifully, "Butterfly Caught" in particular. But that means jack when you feel nothing whilst waiting for the record to play out. There simply aren't enough hooks, melodies or songs here to make this memorable.
The prior outing Mezzanine had a brooding, cinematic edge that did much to fire the imagination, Protection had the emotive title track, "Karmacoma" and "Weather Storm" amongst its finery. And Blue Lines was... well... Blue Lines. This takes itself so seriously you can feel the furrows of worry. Not content with giving over eight minutes to the desert opus and closing track "Antistar" the track then proceeds to bleep on for another eight minutes doing absolutely chuff all.
This is lazy music making, to be avoided at all costs.