Wax Tailor - Hope & Sorrow
With crackles, hip-hop beats, a somewhat monotonous groove and a man talking - in almost scientific tones - about constructing new music from old, Hope & Sorrow starts out like an Endtroducing clone.
After the opening track, however, Wax Tailor (aka JC le Saout) settles for a mostly song and vocal-based record. With its ticking clock, claps of thunder and Tim Burton-esque strings, To Dry Up is the highlight. The spooky atmosphere juxtaposed with Charlotte Savary's sweet voice will, in big lights, flash up the term "trip-hop" in older listeners' heads.
But, unlike Portishead's Third, there's no urge here to push forward the genre at cost to the sanity of its creators. More's the pity. I could almost swear We Be, with its socially aware spoken lyric from Ursula Rucker, was on the last 4 Hero album (yes, I know it wasn't really), Positively Inclined, although admittedly funky, doesn't break any new hip-hop ground, and Sometimes, a return to the stuttering beats of DJ Shadow past, just makes you want to dig out Midnight in a Perfect World again.
In truth, there's little on Hope & Sorrow that doesn't groan like an old building. The production is tight and some tracks are semi-memorable, but it's hard to get excited about an album with a sense of "heard it all before" running right through it.