Tricky w/ DJ Miggs and Grease Juxtapose

Successful British popular music is often composed taking North American trends, improving on them, and selling them back to unsuspecting and appreciative audiences. Adrian Thaws has performed this, um, trick once again with the surprisingly upbeat and varied songs on his latest Tricky effort, Juxtapose. While he’s always been informed by American hip-hop, this is a real love letter at times, with producers DJs Muggs (Cypress Hill, House of Pain) and Grease (DMX, Ruff Ryders) holding his pen. Having already let off the steam of his pre-millenium tension, Tricky is relatively light-hearted, even playful here, a marked change from last year’s bleak Angels With Dirty Faces. Acoustic guitars, sweeping strings and wailing guitar solos are interspersed with real songs that recall his 1995 debut explosion Maxinquaye. With that album’s diva Martina busy with her own solo joint, Tricky introduces her less sultry doppleganger in Kioka, who guests on vocals along with frantic Brit rapper Mad Dog (from London Posse). “I Like the Girls” takes a frantic rap from Mad Dog in the Sex Style territory of Khan or Kool Keith, while “Hot Like A Sauna” gets both the funky synth and the Metallica metal mix treatment. For all this variety, there’s still plenty of trademark Tricky, but it’s nice to see the Darth Vader of blunted beats wearing a different mask now and then. (Island)