Friday, March 21, 2008
No. 419: Dummy
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: The 1995 Mercury Prize winner is a more impressive record than the Massive Attack records also on this list. Beth Gibbons' voice is great and the samples/drumbeats are fantastic.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: It's not the best thing I've ever heard and the songs certainly run together. The songs are very similar.
Best song: "Mysterons" and "Wandering Star" are great. "Sour Times" was the hit and is a great song.
Worst song: "Roads" isn't great.
Is it awesome?: Sure.
There are a few easy ways for me to enjoy something. The first is to have a real downbeat rhytymn. The second is to have an anticipitory song build. Also, I like female singers. The final is to be literate by using literay phrases and themes.
The last point can be abused (the Decemberists annoy me), but when I heard this line: "Wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever." That, ladies and gentlemen, is from the Epistle of Jude, chapter 1, verse 13. Pretty cool.
"The Bristol Sound" (or trip hop or whatever) can be incredibly effective when done well and "Dummy" is done very well. As AllMusic.com puts it, "Portishead crossed over to an American, alternative audience, connecting with the legion of angst-ridden indie fans as well."
I was (and probably still am) one of those angst-ridden indie fans. So, this record really resonates with me. "Sour Times" was the hit, but it's hardly the best song on the record. "Mysterons" is the better song and "Wandering Star" are both fantastic songs.
The record works as background music really well, though when you examine it a little more, it's excellent in the foreground.