Having dismantled trip hop and recorded its burial, mooching around in a wedding dress or hanging with pensionly East End gangsters, Tricky has always done things his own way. Musically though, with each album since the landmark debut Maxinquaye, he has gradually lost the plot. With the notable return to form on 2001′s really rather good Blow Back, Vulnerable is frustratingly back to a ‘no tunes and very little fun’ policy.
Now based in LA with Italian singer Costanza replacing Martina as his new muse, he’s armed with pro-tools malarkey (making everything sound pointy and compressed) and a digital camera. This is something of a multimedia ‘project’, with initial copies of the album coming with a DVD and there’s also an exhibition of photography to look forward to.
With the exception of versions of XTC‘s Dear God and The Cure‘s Love Cats (included possibly due to having tunes), Vulnerable struggles around in a murk of session musicians and lacks any real edge. Gone are the spooksome soundscapes and genuinely sinister atmosphere, now it’s just a bit, well, rubbish with muso hell rearing its head on the excruciating Ice Pick.
There’s no denying Tricky’s talent, and the fact he’s around gladdens the hearts of many. The fact remains though that some eight albums in, the Tricky Experience has already been nailed and is best encapsulated in one very good album right at the start. Everything since has struggled to maintain that standard and Vulnerable is no exception.
Buy. Play. File away. Don’t expect to accidentally start humming any of it.