Editors’ Notes Tricky — born Adrian Thaws in the Knowle West section of Bristol, England — made some of the most riveting pop music of the ‘90s. Trip-hop classics like Maxinquaye and Pre-Millennium Tension were dark, atmospheric works imbued with a sense danger and eroticism. Tricky is an elusive figure in some ways: he often spotlights other singers while he quietly intones below them, and stylistically he can be a bit of a shape-shifter, albeit one who puts his own stamp on everything he touches. 2008’s Knowle West Boy, his first album in five years, kicks off with “Puppy Toy,” a 21st-century blues featuring vocalist Alex Mills and a chorus that blasts like a radio hit. A couple of tracks, “Bacative” and “Baligaga” showcase Rodigan Morgan toasting over Dancehall-based grooves, while “Council Estate” is a slice of fractured punk. Some of the better cuts — “Past Mistake,” “Coalition,” and “Far Away”— use strings to great textural effect. The standout “Joseph” is tough to categorize. It’s an edgy, ambient piece flecked by harp tones that feels like it’s about to explode but never quite does; instead, it savors every drop of tension it so successfully creates.
Cross to Bear
Council Estate (Mowgli Superstar Remix) [Bonus Track]