Massive Attack - Heligoland
If 2003's 100th Window seemed like a shrinking of the Massive Attack cast and sound, Heligoland somewhat over-compensates in the other direction. The guest vocalist count has been substantially increased, and, as you'd expect, this doesn't help the record's focus. However, there's little here that will surprise those familiar with Massive Attack's previous output. The real trouble is there are far fewer standout tracks than you might expect. A number of songs hark back to Mezzanine's rock dynamics, but they stop well short of smacking your properly around the ears. More satisfyingly, 'Splitting The Atom' recalls their Blue Lines roots - 3D and Daddy G indulging in moody tag team rapping, with vocal assistance from regular collaborator Horace Andy, and all to the backing of a simple looped organ. Perhaps the least expected track is 'Flat of the Blade', which features Elbow's Guy Garvey. Abstract, bleepy electronica, it could easily have fitted on Radiohead's 'Kid A'. The showstopper here is 'Paradise Circus'. Deciding to use Hope Sandoval as a guest vocalist doesn't exactly smack of originality, but her voice sounds as fabulous as ever and the inspired, understated use of handclaps as beats against a dubby bassline earns it that special 'Massive Attack classic' status. If Heligoland initially sounds very disappointing, it does improve with successive listens, but perhaps not by as much as you want it to.