Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Hell, Legoland!

Massive Attack

There are a lot of bands struggling to live up to their past glories. It's part of what comes with moments of genius. And since we as a culture tend to assign genius to a person as an attribute, instead of viewing it as something they've come into contact with, all that pressure resides within. It can't be pleasant for anyone who's had a Top 40 single, or a Top 40 album. It really can't be pleasant for anyone who's actually touched God, as Massive Attack did with Mezzanine over ten years ago.

Keep in mind, I don't use that phrase lightly. If you've listened to any of Massive Attack's albums prior to 100th Window (which some thought was mediocre and others a masterpiece; I remain undecided), you know they were one of the best bands of the nineties. And they did it very, very quietly, without attracting all that much attention to themselves. Don't get me wrong, they were a big band; they just weren't filling stadiums.

Heligoland doesn't stand much chance, then, of being received favourably. Not when its forebears are such stone-cold classics. If you listen to it pretending this is a new band, which is how I feel most albums should be listened to the first time, it's pretty good. Not great, but pretty good. There are some morose fifteen-year-olds out there who will come across this having no idea who they've found, and their minds will be blown. The rest of us will simply nod appreciatively.

If you listen to it knowing MA, you'll enjoy the new bits of Dub they've added to their sound. It's darker, which I'm always a fan of, from just about any band. If only the material were at all memorable, which none of it is. So this is not Mezzanine, Pt. 2, either in quality or in sound. If it had been the latter, though, I would have been a bit disappointed. Say what you will about Massive Attack, but they never stay still. God blessed them for it once. That's more than most get.

1 comment:

Joe said...

What a pretty cover...