Strange things are afoot on Tricky’s 13th LP: its quality, for one. The trip-hop maverick’s former foil, Martina Topley-Bird, guests for the first time in 14 years; a sombre treat. Elsewhere, Russian rappers jostle against a perplexing cover version of Hole’s Doll Parts. The former are excellent, with the lairy Scriptonite juxtaposed against Tricky’s malevolent drawl on Same As It Ever Was (a Talking Heads reference, surely). The latter? If only Tricky had sung it, rather than one of his myriad guests. Throughout, Tricky creates a claustrophobic world full of stark bass lines, pop digressions and slinky Bristol moments; his duet with Francesca Belmonte, New Stole, is particularly moreish.
Kitty Empire is the Observer's pop critic. She has written for NME and occasionally crops up on Radio 4, 5Live, BBC 6Music, and has appeared on BBC2's The Culture Show and Newsnight Review. @kittyempire666