Third by Portishead


It’s not exactly news that Portishead‘s long-awaited third studio album is released today, its arrival having been telegraphed for months. I’ve been a fan since I heard the first theremin-inflected strains of Mysterons back in 1994 so I’d been looking forward to this. After a hiatus of ten years the burden of expectation grows very heavy so it’s never a good idea to expect too much. Well this album isn’t a disappointment by any means; some parts are surprisingly placid after the abrasiveness of their second opus, other parts such as the new single, Machine Gun, pull that abrasiveness in new directions.

Rather than add to the deluge of reviews I’ll note a personal delight which is the track We Carry On, a fantastic Silver Apples pastiche augmented by Adrian Utley’s growling guitar. Being an aficionado of the handful of late Sixties groups that could be classed as electronic, it’s fun seeing Portishead chalk up another reference to that era’s rudimentary synth music. Something in the air in 1968 saw the release of several significant albums that mixed electronic sounds into psychedelia: Cauldron by Fifty Foot Hose, the self-titled album by The United States of America and the first album by Silver Apples. Portishead already sounded very much like Fifty Foot Hose to begin with, if Fifty Foot Hose had been listening to John Barry instead of Edgard Varèse. On the second Portishead album they dedicated Half Day Closing to The United States of America so it’s not at all surprising for them to borrow some rhythms from Silver Apples; forty years on it’s as though they’ve collected the set.

Now get over to YouTube and watch them play We Carry On live; it fucking rocks!

Previously on { feuilleton }
Light in the west

6 thoughts on “Third by Portishead”

  1. “We Carry On” is my favorite track, too! I am digging the album. Better late than never, you know?

  2. I’m happy they did anything new at all, I thought they’d pretty much split up after Beth went off to do her own album.

    ‘Threads’ has really got me at the moment as well, especially the way the doom escalates until it sounds like Deathprod or something. Can’t help but think the title is a nod to the chilling nuclear apocalypse film of the same name.

  3. it sounds as if they have been listening to lots of nine inch nails, which I think is a great thing….
    nin incidentally have just released a bunch of new material intended to be sountracks, so all you film makers and animators get working (this means you Mr Coulthard) you can find out more about “ghosts” at

  4. Hey, that’s Coulthart, if you please. :)

    Some of the drums sound a bit NIN-ish but they have enough recondite influences from elsewhere without needing to borrow from anything so obvious. Adrian Utley has worked with Mount Vernon Arts Lab as I noted in my Yahoo Music piece, an outfit a thousand miles from the mainstream.

    Ghost was the free one, right? I haven’t heard any NIN for ages but if it’s more soundtrack-oriented then I’m more interested. His songs used to put me off a bit. But I always liked that he supported Coil, one of my favourite groups of the Nineties.

  5. Hi John, just checked that Portishead vs Silver Apples reference, nice one! I do prefer Silver Apples’s “Oscillations” though!


  6. Hi Ed. I’m still a sucker for We Carry On but it should be acknowledged that Silver Apples were the originators.

    Anyone who likes the Jools Holland clip linked above might like to know that Dimeadozen has a torrent of the whole show available. (You need to be a member there to access it, of course.)

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