Tuesday, 11 December 2012
Since I live in Bristol, it's almost compulsory for me to like Portishead. So it's a good job they're pretty fucking great, really.
To my ears, their albums tell the story of a post break-up spiral descent into insanity. The first record, Dummy, is all "nobody loves me" depressive introspection. By the second eponymous record things have taken an altogether more sinister turn, and the vibe has switched from "I'm going to kill myself" to "I'm going to kill myself, but I'm taking all you fuckers with me". Then there's a long period of uneasy silence... and then Third, by which point we're listening to Portishead sat in the corner of a darkened room, gently rocking back and forth and singing to the severed head in it's hands.
Somewhere in the middle of all this is the very excellent Roseland NYC live album. It's one of those records where the band plays their hits with full orchestra backing; and usually you get the impression that the band in question is determined to get their moneys worth and it's all orchestra all the time, but Portishead have way more class than that. For some songs the orchestra hardly does a thing, because it wouldn't sound right; whilst on others, the additional arrangements conspire to an even greater sense of forboding menace. Or sound more like Bond themes. Whatever, it's all good.