Massive Attack Heligoland

Massive Attack Heligoland
Heligoland is the first proper Massive Attack album since 2003's 100th Window, not counting the run of soundtrack work the duo pulled off in 2004/'05. As with much of the seminal trip-hop group's 2000s output, the Bristol entity are still trying to get a handle on what direction they should take post-Mezzanine, when founding-member Andrew Vowles departed. In many ways, the underrated 100th Window benefited from essentially being a solo album for Robert Del Naja, who focused the album's sound and narrowed the field of vocalists to provide a more brooding consistency. However, with Heligoland, Grant Marshall is back on board and, as a duo, Massive Attack appear to be deferring mostly to their guests. TVOTR's Tunde Adebimpe, Blur's Damon Albarn, Hope Sandoval and others appear here, but their contributions, although not bad (okay, the guy from Elbow we can do without) never sound like more than acquaintances sharing a studio for a few days. That said, it's with the vocal work of long-time collaborator Horace Andy, by far the most soulful guest here, that Massive Attack truly rise to the group's original heights of potency, and incidentally, where they reach back most obviously to the blunted dub-iness of Tricky-era Blue Lines and Protection. That era of Massive Attack has held up admirably through the years, and one would hope that next time Horace Andy could hang around long enough for an entire album. (Virgin)