Don't call it a reunion. A band that didn't break up can't reunite. Sure, it's been a decade since Portishead released a studio album, but this is a band that's always taken its time. The big question is: Was it worth the wait? Yes. Hell, yes. The crew has sped up its electronic trip-hop sound so that it no longer wallows in sorrow; instead, it grabs melancholy by the throat and shakes it violently. There's also an odd little freak folk ditty, à la CocoRosie, mixed with a barbershop quartet that doesn't quite fit into the sound, yet dances around playfully for a few minutes and shows a side of Portishead that might actually smile.
The beautiful ambient sounds of M83 albums such as Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts have been covered up by-oh the horror!-vocals. That might not sound bad, but it is. Very, very bad. This is a band that creates little waterfalls of sound so perfect, its music ties into the heart rather than the ear. The syrupy, harmonic, over-produced vocals turn a band with a normally timeless sound into '80s rip-off artists, a kind of hack Cocteau Twins that should fly away like a flock of seagulls.
The Seldom Seen Kid
There's something appealing about The Seldom Seen Kid. This, despite the fact that every influence seems to be of the Graceland, Sting and Morrisey persuasion. It shouldn't work, but it kind of does. Singer Guy Garvey's solemn tone doesn't change much over music that is sometimes a piano ballad, sometimes a guitar-driven
pseudo-psychedelic tune and sometimes an orchestrally based indie rock epic. The dreamy Brit pop may not stick to one genre, but its bouncing around keeps it from growing stale as it explores sounds that would be boring if repeated, but are made intriguing by the quick skimming and ADD of Elbow.