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Tricky - Vulnerable Print E-mail
Tuesday, 17 June 2003


format: CD
label: Sanctuary Records
release year: 2003
performance: 5.5
sound 6.5
reviewed by: Paul Lingas

ImageIt seems that Tricky is trying to maintain and immerse himself in the role he played as Gary Oldman’s henchman in Luc Besson’s film, “The Fifth Element,” a sort of outrageously cool but dangerous man. While he has been referred to as the “black devil” by critics in England, there is positively nothing devilish to Vulnerable. The music is straightforward, a certain type of Euro-hip-hop dance mix which would play well as background music at a party or when painting the new houseboat. One of the most surprising things is that Tricky himself mostly serves as a baseline or background singer on 11 of the 13 tracks. Most of the melodies are sung by Italian talent Costanza, who is clearly the most prominent voice and, dare I say, talent, on the album.

A lot of the songs have a similar lean to them, with a melodic/hypnotic Tricky in the background, supporting Costanza’s very capable and at times lovely vocals. “Stay” begins the album in a nice way, with Costanza’s lyric purring and a seductive simplicity to the beat, followed by “Antimatter,” which is too generic, especially in the chorus, attempting to be catchy/angry but causing only frustration with its repetition. “Car Crash” and “Dear God” are both languidly sexy and hypnotic while still pushing the beat. In fact, the best songs are the ones where Costanza’s plaintive, slightly shrill voice is prominent; it has a nice sound to it and works well with some of the melodies and beats. At other times, there are tracks that sound as if they are attempting to be somewhat angry, but they are punctuated mostly by a heavier baseline and Tricky attempting to sound menacing. “Ice Pick,” “Moody,” and “Where I’m From” are aggressive only because they have the occasional three-note guitar riff that grinds away like an angry ‘80s metal band.

While there are some good things on this album, as a whole it doesn’t really hold up very well. There seems to be an inconsistent consistency to it, in that the more mellow songs with Costanza carrying the melody are good, while everything else is mostly just sort of there. This has the effect of breaking the album into two parts: the songs that sound alike but are good to listen to, and all the other rubbish. A lot of the songs are good for dancing, but others are a bit too obscure in their rhythms to be anything better than semi-decent background music. When Tricky attempts to be more hardcore, shall we say, there isn’t much to be had, simply a vague attempt at sounding angrier, but without much to say. Many of the lyrics are strained, to say the least, and at other times they are unintelligible. Only Costanza’s words are easily understood, and she is frankly the best thing about Vulnerable. The slower songs are best, because they take advantage of her voice without trying to be unappealingly aggressive. There is an enhanced portion to the CD with two short videos and a brief interview portion, wherein Tricky states that he’s doing music that no one else is doing. Hmm. This might be true, but there could be a reason why no one else is doing this.

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