20 Watts

ISSUE 21 | Reviews: Massive Attack’s Heligoland by 20watts

20 Watts reviews Massive Attack's Heligoland and gives it 11/20 watts.

Part of Issue 21 coverage!

PREVIEW: VISIT Massive Attack’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 11/20 Watts

When examining the often misunder­stood genre of trip-hop, it’s impossible to ignore its original trio, Massive Attack. With their 1991 release of the now-legendary Blue Lines, they proved themselves not as innovators, but instead as inventors of a dark new sound coming from the U.K. Massive Attack created a sound heavy with melancholy, yet nothing short of dread-inspiring. With that, trip-hop was bornAfter a seven-year hiatus, they return with their 2010 release, Heligoland. Trip-hop’s founding fathers had a lot to live up to with their highly anticipated return. However, the expectations of trip-hop en­thusiasts and critics alike were left mostly disappointed by Heligoland, which featured an unfamiliar and alien sound far removed from Massive Attack’s glory days.The darkness of Massive Attack’s earlier days has disappeared from the group’s sound.The album’s opener, “Pray for Rain,” demonstrates this perfectly, dragging on in an extended dirge just barely kept alive by impressive vocals provided by TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe. The same uninspired, overly resigned sound is also present on one of the record’s singles, “Splitting the Atom.” It tiptoes along pain­fully with an underwhelming, minimalist beat, and a host of tired, and almost lazy organ stabs.In the end, it’s no Blue Lines—or most of their other work for that matter. The anger has unfortunately vanished from trip-hop’s first trailblazers, and the result is a record that sounds like the group’s self-written eulogy.

— John Luposello

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