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Massive Attack – Heligoland

"Heligoland"

Massive Attack – Heligoland
26 February 2010, 14:00 Written by Gina Louise
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Fatherhood, perfectionism, laziness: whatever the reason for Massive Attack’s seven year hiatus, there is no denying that Heligoland has been a long time coming. What with this rather extensive time out, and the somewhat lacking efforts of 100th Window, the Massives sure had some big expectations to live up to. Whilst I was at first a little loathe to review the album for fear of repeated disappointment, I put my grudge to rest and prepared to give the trip hop founders another chance. And boy am I glad I did.The album sees guest appearances from a shiny new host of stars, as well as some old favourites. Martina Topley-Bird offers her services on ‘Babel’ and ‘Psyche’, providing an angular contrast to the bass heavy beats. The kaleidoscopic array of noises of ‘Babel’ is complimented by her delicate vocals, who sounds almost bored. My particular favourite is ‘Psyche’, which is an upbeat, simple ditty, bringing together a monotonous ukulele styled melody with some oddly keyed vocals.Guy Garvey is also featured on the album, providing some grounding vocals over some trippy electronic background beats in ‘Flat of the Blade’. The trademark lackadaisical vocals continue onto ‘Paradise Circus’, as Hope Sandoval’s lethargic Sia-esque voice is layered over piano melodies and naïve hand clapping.It was always a sure bet that Horace Andy would bring back the tinge of reggae that Massive Attack seemed to be missing on 100th Window, and sure enough ‘Girl I Love You’ is a bouncy, beat driven track. It threatens to explode into a dance anthem with its Prodigy-esque muted warbling beat, yet never quite gets there, oddly bringing in some ill-timed electro OMD styley that epitomizes the hybridity the band are known for.Whilst known for their impressive choice of collaborators, it has been commented that their selection this time may have cheapened the album, using mainstream acts to make it more accessible to the masses”¦ I say, what the hell, as long as it works. And it so clearly does. Massive Attack have managed to create an album that is both muted and intense, with a multitude of influences, sounds and genres. Having always found the guys a little hit or miss, I am glad to see them back on form.
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