By Denise BensonOne gets the sense that Tricky is easily bored. He's restless in the 13 minutes that we speak, easily distracted by activity around him. "I've been bored for the last couple of years on my other label," he says referring to changes, mergers and buyouts affecting Island Records. "It was the same old, same old thing." But Tricky — new lawyer, manager (Chris Blackwell), and label (Hollywood Records) in tow — is "more enthusiastic" than he has been in some time. And he has a brighter, shinier, accessible new album to show for it.
Blowback is a curious thing. Anchored around Tricky's distinct production style and the vocals of R&B soulslinger Amber Sunshower and dancehall don Hawkman, the album also features a motley crew of guests — Live's Ed Kowalczyk, Alanis Morissette, Cyndi Lauper and Red Hot Chili Peppers Flea and Anthony Kiedis amongst them. The results are mixed, with songs such as "Excess" and "Over Me" being hookier versions of vintage Tricky while the guitar-laden "Girls" and "Bury the Evidence" will have long-time fans hitting the "ouch" button.
Maxinquaye, Tricky's 1995 debut and most successful album to date, is definitely the release his label is most associating the artist with. While Tricky agrees that "I would have been a lot more successful in a business sense now if this would have been the follow-up to Maxinquaye," he doesn't want to erase history.
"I think all of those other albums had to come in between," he emphasises. "It was really important for me to get my identity. Some of my records what sold less than anything else have been my most successful things, as in no one's releasing albums like that. See, I thought some of those other albums were uplifting as well; if someone stands there and says ‘Your albums were really dark and now it's more uplifting,' I disagree with ‘em. I think people see my music as dark because they've never heard it before, it's awkward and it doesn't compromise. I think the only difference with this album is that it's more universal, more obvious. With the other albums, it might take people a while to get into ‘em. With this one, it's instinct, your ears get it straight away. You don't listen to it and think ‘What's this?' You hear it and think ‘Oh I like this.' Then you think ‘What's this?'"
At least he's honest about his motives and approach. "All I knew is that I wanted it to be on the radio, but I don't know how to make a radio song. So I thought the way of doing it was to make something universal and undeniable. If you make something undeniable, people are going to have to play it. I think that this is one for everybody."