Tricky surprised the hell out of me last year with False Idols, an album so good it placed at #13 in my year end Best Of list. That release saw Tricky return to the sounds that brought him success back in 1995 with Maxinquaye. After years of flailing around with substandard releases, it was a revelatory album and a triumphant return to form. Almost as surprising, he has returned barely a year later with another brand new full length.
Titled after his birth name, Adrian Thaws is quite different from False Idols, but Tricky has lost none of the momentum generated by that album. Whereas the last record delved deeply into the dark, moody music that earned him acclaim as one of the originators of trip-hop, Adrian Thaws is all over the map musically. I've seen it referred to as his club/hip-hop album, and although there are songs fitting those categories, it is far too adventurous sonically to be put in a box.
As on the last album, Francesca Belmonte provides vocals on a number of songs, mostly those that come closest to the material on False Idols. "Something In The Way" is a beautifully executed slow electronic track, "Nicotine Love" is a funky electro number, while "I Had A Dream" is a trippy, jazzy piece. British rapper Bella Gotti is featured on two tracks, the fierce "Gangster Chronicle" which calls back to Tricky's pre-solo days by sampling from his former band Massive Attack's "Unfinished Sympathy", and "Why Don't You", a mixture of hard rock guitar and slamming beats whose title is completed in the song with, "go and get fucked."
"Silly Games" has a strong reggae influence, while "My Palestine Girl" is as sinister musically as anything Tricky has recorded. Adrian Thaws is definitely a more danceable, beat heavy album than False Idols. Although I like the previous release a bit more, this is a worthy follow-up and further proof that Tricky is far from finished.
Favorite tracks: "Something In The Way", "Nicotine Love", "My Palestine Girl", "Gangster Chronicle"
Adrian Thaws was released September 9, 2014 via False Idols/!K7 Records.