After delivering his best record in almost two decades with last year’s False Idols, trip-hop pioneer Tricky strikes while the iron’s hot with an eleventh studio effort that shares the name he was given at birth, Adrian Thaws.
The second release through the 46-year-old’s own label has been self-described as his first real club album, and although there’s little here likely to threaten David Guetta’s status as the king of the dancefloor, there are at least a handful of moments which move outside Tricky’s claustrophobic comfort zone.
“Lonnie Listen” is a swaggering blend of murky synths, trap beats and bluesy guitars which perfectly complements queercore rapper Mykki Blanco’s harsh delivery; “Why Don’t You” is a similarly abrasive affair which sees regular cohort Bella Gotti spit expletives against a backdrop of grimy acid house; while the throbbing electro of lead single “Nicotine Love” provides the first opportunity to mention the words “floorfiller” and “Tricky” in the same sentence.
There’s even an unexpected venture into Scandinavian synth-pop with “Right Here,” a quietly charming collaboration with kooky Danish songstress Oh Land. “Silly Games,” a sweetly-sung cover version of Janet Kay’s Lovers Rock classic, also proves that the Knowle West Boy is no longer afraid to embrace the sunnier side of life.
However, half of Adrian Thaws still occupies the same brooding comedown territory that has defined the Bristolian’s patchy career, with unsurprisingly mixed results. Indeed, the atmospheric lullaby that is “Something In The Way” and the industrial blues of Nneka duet “Keep Me In Your Shake” possess the same majestic quality as his seminal debut Maxinquaye.
However, “My Palestine Girl” is a poor attempt to invoke the spirit of Massive Attack’s Mezzanine, which also features some of Tricky’s clunkiest lyrics (“She’s close to God, I dribble like a dog, I take a trip to Gaza, It’s really love I’m after”). Likewise, the ponderous urban poetry of “The Unloved,” a pure filler skit which tests the patience even at the mercifully brief running time of 1 min 9 secs.
Tricky has stated the album’s title is specifically saying, “You don’t really know me,” and it’s fair to conclude that we’re still none the wiser as to who the real Adrian Thaws is once its 13 inconsistent tracks draw to a close. However, although it doesn’t reach the heights of its predecessor, it’s still a vast improvement on his 00s output which should also help re-establish his credentials as one of the bass-heavy scene’s most intriguing mavericks.