Tricky has been around for almost two decades, his first release, Maxinquaye surfacing way back in 1995. A talented hip-hop/rap artist, Tricky’s latest album shows the culmination of years of developing that talent by bringing something new to the table. The title is actually the musician’s real name, an indicator that perhaps we don’t really know him as an artist, maybe we can’t put a finger on his music and give it a definite identity. This was his intention with the album, and boy, does he bring out those intentions effectively.
Indeed, putting a finger on Tricky’s music is pretty hard when the album is so varied in its style and execution. From slow-tempo moody ballads to rapping to full-on club tracks, Adrian Thaw has got it all. It’s an element that makes this LP an especially intriguing one to listen to and behold.
The album’s first single, Nicotine Love ft. Francesca Belmont has got all the successful elements of a club track in place; catchy snyths and a rhythmic beat and a repetitive lyric and vocal that would seem at home in a downtown venue. Juxtapose this piece against the track that follows it, Gangster Chronicle, which has guest artist, Bella Gotri, violently rapping against a catchy beat about unjust stereotypes of black people in society and it’s like you’ve entered some kind of paradox. Yet, it’s Tricky’s impressive execution of all these musical styles that make the album an entertaining listen. It’s further impressive when you consider the implementation of the slower-tempo songs on the album such as the ballads, opening track Sundown and Silly Games which both feature guest artist, Tirzah. It would be fair to say the inclusion of such a vast array of guest artists fuel the album’s variety, giving the record a unique identity as a whole that is hard to make out, keeping things interesting.
So, while this may be a varied and entertaining release, there is something that keeps this album from being something great. Lonnie Listen, for example, is a rather dull and uninventive dance track with Tricky rapping over vague synths and a lame bass. Similarly, Why Don’t You seems like an uninspired piece that throws in some fast-paced Nicki Minaj-style rapping with a clichéd singing hook that fails to entertain. The album, while a good listen, is really just that. It is admirable for Tricky to display his talent in creating an elusive identity with his music in this album by exploring different genres, but at the same time, it certainly isn’t the best LP that 2014 has to offer. The problem is that dozens of artists can do what he does better.
Nonetheless, despite the imperfections, Adrian Thaws is an interesting listen that will no doubt please fans of hip-hop and club music or those simply looking for something new. Just don’t expect it to blow your mind.