Music Review: Portishead – Dummy


Ok, this is the second review in my ongoing series of my takes on what others consider to be “classic” albums. Next up is Portishead.

At the very beginning of each song, before Beth comes in singing, you would swear this is a hip hop album. Every song it seems like begins with some kind of beat that continues through the whole song. But this album plays out nothing like a hip hop album. Beth Gibbons’ voice wails over the crackle and pop of what you would think is a vinyl record playing. Her voice is a perfect complement to the film style this album has. It sounds almost like the soundtrack to a dark movie. But it works relatively well. It sounds like it wouldn’t work at all, hip hop sounding beats with samples strung throughout and a slow pace as Beth sings over it all. It almost sounds like a live band you might hear at a slow paced nightclub. But it works well.

This album is somewhat of a harsh listen the first time around. Because of the slow nature of every song, there isn’t much change up in pace. But as you continue to listen to it more and more, you will appreciate it all. The album is very cohesive in this manner. The album definitely plays off of each song before it to make it continue to escalate to what I consider to be the highest point on the album, and that is, “Glory Box’, which is the last song on the album. It captures everything that this album is about. A few other strong points on this album are, “It Could Be Sweet”, “Sour Times”, and “Pedestal.”


The background to each of these songs on this album are great though. You have guitars, drums, trumpets, DJ scratching, sampled sounds everywhere, and more. It makes for a lot to hear and take in. But it makes for amazing layering in the songs. Some of these things you might not even notice on the first listen, like the subtle DJ scratches here and there. This is what draws you back in to listen to it again. To maybe catch things you may have missed before. Its the same reason I sometimes go back and watch episodes of the TV show, “Lost.”

But aside from the things this album does well, there are a few things that it fails to do well on. Like I mentioned earlier, most of the songs are the same kind of pace. All of them are relatively slow and “heavy.” Which makes for a cohesive album and a set tone for the album. It also makes for a tiring and somewhat boring listen the first time around. Once you get used to it, it is a little better, but it doesn’t all go away. Also, I would have hoped for maybe a guest appearance by someone else. Beth’s voice is great, but if maybe she had gotten some accompaniment somewhere on this album, it would have made us appreciate her smooth voice more. Other than that I really don’t have many gripes about this album.

And all you readers are lucky. If you listen to this album and decide that you like it, there is another album titled “Portishead” and came out in 1997, three years after their first, but after that they had nothing; Until recently when they announced they are coming out with a new album at the end of April, entitled “Third“. So all you new fans will be in luck if you happen to enjoy their music. You wouldn’t have had to wait over a decade like the rest of the fans.


Score: 7.5

Songs To Listen To:


Sour Times

Glory Box



~ by Gerald on March 19, 2008.

6 Responses to “Music Review: Portishead – Dummy”

  1. iive heard of them but never tried tehm

  2. sounds like something i might get into.

  3. Very interesting G, sounds like something I need to check out 🙂

  4. ill give them a go. nice review 🙂

  5. Hmm. Doesn’t sound like me. I’ll listen to the sample tracks though. Fo sho.

  6. 7.5 is much too weak for this album. It is excellent. I disagree with your weaknesses – this “similarity” is the atmosphere it creates, which surrounds you, captures you.

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