Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mysterious Development: New Portishead Album Doesn't Make Me Want to Take My Own Life

If you're anything like me, you have never been able to get through either of the first two Portishead albums without having some sort of nervous breakdown. God knows I've tried, and things always start off really well. I'll be sitting on the floor in a dimly lit room with the headphones on, playing with matches as per usual while my cat Stella claws slowly at the small of my back, enjoying the dark noir thrills of “Mysterons,” “Sour Times,” or “All Mine.” But things always end up the same way after only a few more songs: me waking up in the dark shivering with cold sweats, covered in my own piss, sucking on a pitch black revolver, and my mother’s disembodied voice shrieking at me from the phone that is lying beside me on the floor, “Tim?! Tim?! Are you ok?! Are you having a low blood sugar?!”

Listen to this Portishead song from 1997 and try not to stab yourself.

Yes, listening to Portishead has always had the effect of making me desperately unhappy and longing for the sweet embrace of a long and painful death. But their new album, Third, though it certainly contains all of the great elements that made their first two albums such hope killing classics (drama, desolation, despair, dejection, despondency, derangement, great beats) doesn’t make me want to take my own life. In fact, it’s so varied and creative in its presentation of utterly abject misery that my only inclination when the album is over is to press play again. That’s progression.

New Portishead single "The Rip" inexplicably makes me want to continue living

Is it because the last 8 years of Horrific Idiocy at the White House have done such a good and thorough job of killing all the hope and optimism in me that the wailing of a chronically distressed woman who never stops sounding like she’s about to burst into tears actually sounds kind of life affirming to me? Maybe.

No comments: