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Dummy

Portishead

1994

This is Portishead's classic debut album.  It's essentially a trip-hop album, but with a more tortured, soulful, brooding atmosphere.  Beth Gibbon's vocals are both haunting and mournful, and really add to the uniquely subdued atmosphere that cloaks Dummy in a thick air of dreariness.  Their forthcoming releases were a bit more menacing sounding and trippy overall, but Dummy easily has the best songs, the best beats, and the most soul.  A compelling trip-hop classic.

8.5

Portishead

Portishead

1997

Not nearly as good as their debut, but it's still pretty good brooding background trip-hop music.  This one has a bit of a darker, somewhat more menacing vibe overall.  It's compelling at times, but ultimately it lacks the freshness and soul of their classic debut.

7.7

Third

A dark turquoise background with "P" and "3" overlaid on top of one another in lighter white

Portishead

2008

Portishead come back from the dead over a decade later and deliver a somewhat surprisingly good album with Third.  This album does not have much in common with their classic debut, but that doesn't mean it isn't good on its own merits.  In fact, Third is probably their most impressive album in terms of studio wizardry and overall atmosphere...and it's generally an unsettling atmosphere at that.  The album does not have the soul/beats/groove of their debut, but it is much more abstract in nature, but not in a bad way.  It works, and it's downright trippy and consistently engaging throughout.  Beth Gibbons never sounded more haunting than she does here, and the music has a claustrophobic and eerie quality that creates a brooding mood that pulsates throughout the album.  Although the sound here is still subdued and down-tempo in nature, Third keeps you guessing, as you really never know what is around the corner.  It's kind of creepy at times, impressive, and definitely cool.  A great comeback record and has arguably more artist merit than their debut...arguably...

8.2

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