Portishead's third album is initially more a record to admire than to love, its muscular synthesisers, drum breaks and abrupt endings keeping the tension high. But after several listens, Third's majesty unfurls. Propulsive Krautrock rhythms and German radio samples conjure up Eastern bloc minimalism in Silence, Small and the jaw-dropping We Carry On, while soft, organic textures add depth to the icy shallows elsewhere. When Deep Water appears, it is shocking: a minute and 33 seconds of sweet ukulele doo-wop that bring to mind a 78 discovered in a nuclear fallout. Elsewhere, the ominously titled Threads and Plastic show how strong Portishead have become.
CD: Portishead, Third
Jude Rogers is a journalist, interviewer, arts critic and broadcaster.