Tuesday, March 18, 2008

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Was Portishead always strong on rhythm and weak on melody? I can't remember the old stuff too well, but the new one, "Machine Gun," from the forthcoming Third, is just that. The skeleton of the song is really simple - two quarter note thumps followed by a spray of sixteenths - but the contrast in textures is satisfying, and the rhythms, slightly dragged, create a nice tension. (This is more apparent in the studio version, available for download, than in the live version above.)

Obviously the band was into the groove, too, as they let it run the entire song. It'd be nice to give props for a brave restraint, but the effect, to these ears, is more boring than hypnotic. Ditto the generic two chord progression, which sounds a lot like the band's own "Wandering Star" and loads of other pop songs. What say? Am I losing my edge or are they?

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