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Tricky: Knowle West Boy


Tricky: Knowle West Boy

Label:Domino
Format:Album
Media:CD
Release Date:2008
Genre:Hip Hop/Rap

By Michaelangelo Matos | Posted 9/24/2008

Maybe the hardest thing to accept about Tricky's work over the past decade is that he used to conjure the otherworldly with so little apparent effort. By contrast, the producer/MC's recent stuff has felt a little too down-to-earth, sometimes dragging into the ground, as on 1999's horrid Juxtapose and 2001's Blowback, which enlisted some Red Hot Chili Peppers to revamp the Wonder Woman TV theme. Yuck. So the comeback talk surrounding Knowle West Boy, Tricky's first album in five years, should be taken with a grain of salt. It opens with a honking blues, "Puppy Toy," that isn't nearly the horror it could be but is nevertheless an odd gate-stumble.

But that could be part of the point: Tricky's talking point on this one is that it's him getting real, back to his London roots. And after an iffy beginning, Knowle West Boy at times intimates the Tricky of old, in particular 1996's Pre-Millennium Tension. "Council Estate" is a corroded, far less delusional sequel to that album's "Tricky Kid," about bracing for fame; the luminous "Past Mistake" evokes "Makes Me Wanna Die," its blue-neon feel replaced by polished wood. He covers Kylie Minogue's "Slow," replacing its druggy electro with guitars and synth tweets that would have sounded pop futuristic in 1993, but that slight nostalgia suits both the song and the man who's remade it. (It's also worth noting that ex-Suede guitarist Bernard Butler co-produced much of the album; M.I.A. helpmate Switch participated as well.) This isn't a full comeback by any means, but it's a step in the right direction.

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