- Portishead: Beth Gibbons (vocals); Adrian Utley (guitar, piano, Fender Rhodes piano, Moog synthesizer, bass); Geoff Barrow (drums).
- Additional personnel includes: John Baggot (samples); Sean Atkins (background vocals).
- Like Soul II Soul a few years before them, Portishead spearheaded a revolution in both pop and dance music by introducing a distinctive new groove. Portishead was at the vanguard of the '90s trip-hop onslaught, and after a three-year respite, they return with a self-titled second album to reclaim the trip-hop crown. Beth Gibbons is on her way to becoming the Billie Holiday of electronica, retaining a stoic, laconic tone while recounting tales of despair and emotional upheaval.
- The lazy, spacious beats that are the band's trademark provide just the right combination of urgency and tranquility to underscore the emotional contradictions at the core of Portishead's music. Adrian Utley's delightfully creepy guitar and keyboard work adorns the proceedings tastefully and effectively. On tunes like "Cowboys" and "All Mine" Portishead makes it plain that when it comes to arresting, unsettling electronic dance-pop, nobody does it better.
Rolling Stone (10/2/97, p.56) - 3 Stars (out of 5) - "...the group easily re-establishes its mastery of the genre now known as trip-hop....Geoff Barrow and Adrian Utley have refined their sound to an instantly identifiable essence..."
Spin (1/98, p.86) - Ranked #6 on Spin's list of the "Top 20 Albums Of The Year."
Spin (11/97, p.142) - 9 (out of 10) - "...Like every brilliantly dismal act from Screamin' Jay Hawkins to the Wu-Tang Clan, Portishead tiptope across a ledge where utter seriousness is one false move away from tragic self-parody. They manage the high-wire act with brittle grace, bitter poise. And they sound as if they could break at any second..."
Entertainment Weekly (10/03/97, p.84) - "...This sophomore spook-athon from chilly U.K. combo Portishead clanks across the attic, via Geoff Barrow's skeletal samples and funereal keyboards. Beth Gibbons' surgical-steel voices slices into her partner's scraps of musical meat, for an effect that's hypnotic, bloodless, and addictive..." - Rating: A
Q (1/98, p.114) - Included in Q Magazine's "50 Best Albums of 1997."
Vibe (11/97, p.152) - "...Beth Gibbons shows off stark vocal mood swings as she croons and claws under a bitter moon. A 30-piece orchestra keeps you strung out on drama, while producers/bandmates Adrian Utley and Geoff Barrow snap out the beats..."
The Source (11/97, p.174) - "...crafted with care and eloquence, and somehow articulating the space that exists between the emotional and the physical....Portishead succeed with aplomb on their eponymously-titled follow-up album..."
Melody Maker (12/20-27/97, pp.66-67) - Ranked #18 on Melody Maker's list of 1997's "Albums Of The Year."
Melody Maker (10/4/97, p.50) - "...deep fried, delightful doom music....they're still...the original flames, the instigators, the innovators and still the only sure soundtrack to the future."
Musician (11/97, p.86) - "...Gibbons' extraordinary voice has grown darker, nastier, and more spine-tingling, while the new songs vary from grim...to serene....PORTISHEAD looks over the cliff, then dives headlong into the abyss..."
Village Voice (2/24/98) - Ranked #14 in the Village Voice's 1997 Pazz & Jop Critics' Poll.
NME (Magazine) (12/20-27/97, pp.78-79) - Ranked #32 in NME's 1997 Critics' Poll.
NME (Magazine) (9/27/97, p.57) - 8 (out of 10) - "...if DUMMY was smoky film noir material, this is a choking Hammer Horror ho-ho-free hoedown....wavering, painfully sensitive choruses, desperately distorted soundscapes and good old-fashioned tunes..."