By Alyssa Botts | October 5th, 2010
Since his prime in the 90s (after leaving Massive Attack to release his 1995 debut album Maximquaye, which was a massive success) England’s Tricky hasn’t quite seemed to nail one consistent musical vision. He’s tried time after time to layer his talents under versatility that sounds forced. Following 2008′s Knowle West Boy, Tricky just released Mixed Race, another come-back album that distances itself yet comes painfully close to his old stomping ground sounds.
Mixed Race might as well double its title as an album description; each track hops from one genre to the next, ultimately amounting to a smorgasbord of sounds that skim the surface of Tricky’s capabilities. The first single, “Murder Weapon,” a re-working of an old Echo Minott tune which samples Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn Theme,” sounds more like an uncomfortable aim at lackadaisical rock and club sounds that don’t come natural to him.
Case-in-point: Tricky has said that Mixed Race is “the most uptempo album [he's] done.” He said, “I wanted something that could be played in a club… maybe! Which is unusual for me. Because I don’t give a shit about clubs.” It almost pains me to see a talented artist targeting a vision he “doesn’t give a shit about,” when it should be passion beyond reason.
I feel that when artists of any medium reach their summit of greatness, their 15 minutes of fame so to speak, they try to top their success with versatility that challenges what people appreciated in the first place. Maybe Run-DMC was right, maybe it really is “Tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that’s right on time, it’s Tricky.”
On a more serious note, the stronger tracks of Mixed Race exude a hope and nostalgia of Tricky’s style that defined him in the first place, making the album almost a teaser of what’s to come. We all know Tricky has the murder weapon, we’ll just have to wait and see how he uses it. So if Mixed Race turns out to be only the appetizer, I’m staying for dinner.