- Personnel: Team Brick (vocals, clarinet); Beth Gibbons (guitar); Charlotte Nicholls "Chipper" (cello); Will Gregory (saxophone); John Baggot (Fender Rhodes piano); Clive Deamer (drums).
- Audio Mixers: Craig Silvey; Geoff Barrow.
- More than a decade after its self-titled sophomore outing, the pioneering British electronica ensemble Portishead finally resurfaced with 2008's THIRD, an album that both meets and defies expectations. Although the record features many of the group's aural signatures--most notably that exquisitely dark, cinematic mood and Beth Gibbons's heartbreaking vocals--it presents little in the way of vintage trip-hop, proving that sonic masterminds Geoff Barrow and Adrian Utley aren't keen on repeating themselves. "Silence" kicks off the affair with tumbling percussion loops, while "Nylon Smile" drifts along on spare, slinky instrumentation, and "Machine Gun" moves to jarringly martial metrics that are battlefields away from any pop arena. Though THIRD is initially disorienting, repeated listens reveal a deeply engaging and fascinating album that stays true to the melancholy spirit of Portishead even as it wanders into unfamiliar territory.
Rolling Stone (p.80) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "THIRD is an unexpected yet totally impressive return.....Portishead mix up dub, break beats, cathedral organ, Moroccan drones and even surf rock into a headphone album for sour times."
Spin (p.52) - Ranked #3 in Spin's "40 Best Albums Of 2008" -- "Both taut and unhinged, THIRD turns soul music into a bare-bulb interrogation of the soul."
Entertainment Weekly (p.119) - "Beth Gibbons' spectral vocals linger atop eerie, warped pulses of music to create a swirl of melancholia." -- Grade: B+
Uncut (p.84) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "Adrian Utley proves to be the key player through much of the record....Here his playing is frequently awe-inspiring....THIRD is the most stunning, stark and superb Portishead album yet."
Alternative Press (p.136) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Listening to Portishead has always been like floating through a waking dream, but now the sleek edges have atrophied into a dusty chaos, and it's all the more beautiful and perfect for the change."
Vibe (p.70) - "[Portishead] pays respect to innovators like Kraftwerk, Brian Eno, Wendy Carlos, and the RZA....THIRD has the blare of revolution."
Q (Magazine) (p.131) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "THIRD's sole link with the past is Gibbon's voice, now less mannered and more careworn...especially on twinkling interlude 'Deep Water'..."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.103) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[C]onstantly beguiling....Throughout, Gibbons' singing gives musical and emotional coherence."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.72) - Ranked #11 in Mojo's "The 50 Best Albums Of 2008" -- "Eleven years in the gestating, and totally worth the wait."
Paste (magazine) (p.52) - "THIRD is far and away the best, most punk thing in the Portishead catalog: a deeply transgressive album that bears a passing similarity to its predecessors but leaves most of the baggage behind..."
Clash (magazine) (p.108) - "Portishead have sidled back to express their tortured collective in more depth than most bands could ever dream off. They have subverted the natural order. Pain was never meant to feel this good."
Clash (magazine) (p.67) - Ranked #15 in Clash's "The 40 Best Albums of 2008" -- "THIRD emerged as an abrasive, industrial and intimidating record..."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.94) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[P]ositively infected with spanking new ideas....The jazz, terrifyingly, near Tropicalia prog and, gulp, ukuleles of Geoff Barrow's vast and vinyl library really come to the forefront."