After nearly 30 years in the game, you'd think Tricky might have run out of statements to make, but that wouldn't be very Tricky, now would it? The trip-hop pioneer, and one of its few remaining survivors, has always been a singular and contentious figure within the music industry, one that never shies away from making bold statements, both verbal and musical. Ahead of the release of his 11th studio album, Adrian Thaws, he proclaimed that self-titling his new album was "saying you don't really know me," and that "people have tried to put a finger on me and every album I go to a different place"; fair enough, but only if it were true.
When "Nicotine Love," featuring False Idols collaborator and Adrian Thaws' biggest asset Francesca Belmonte, was released in June, it completely embodied the sense of Tricky embracing the current musical environment and making it his own, but it's sadly only a taste of what the record could have been. The project is filled with interesting collaborators, including feature artist du jour Mykki Blanco, London-based alt-pop singer Tirzah and Danish singer-songwriter Oh Land, but their contributions feel muted, moulded to Tricky's aesthetic instead of expanding his sound.
The first half of the record clashes significantly with the latter half, which is… eclectic. The final four tracks are a bit of a head-scratcher: the downright menacing "My Palestine Girl" is followed by the trip hop-cum-rock of "Why Don't You," which is then followed by the island reggae-infused and appropriately-titled "Silly Games." It then culminates with "Right Here," featuring a barely recognizable Oh Land. But maybe this was the plan all along; maybe Adrian Thaws is Tricky's grand statement as an artist, 11 albums in.
Still, it's an odd statement to make following last year's False Idols, which Tricky stated represented "doing what I want to do, which is what I did with my first record." But then again, this is Tricky we're talking about, and his peculiarity is what makes him an appealing and intriguing artist. (!K7)