Review: Heligoland

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Heligoland is the Massive Attack album that fans have had to wait seven years for. And albums that take this long are, as many of us know firsthand, almost inevitably disappointing because only an absolute masterpiece can satisfy a seven-year-old appetite.

It’s not quite a masterpiece but it is still an undeniably wonderful album. It manages to intensify the narcotizing sound that many have come to expect from the Bristol group. In fact, it achieves the epic task of being the most hypnotic of the Massive Attack albums.

The band has also gathered a truly impressive list of featuring artists including Damon Albarn, Guy Garvey of Elbow and Martina Topley-Bird. There’s always the worry that roping in so many big names will turn an album into an exercise in sycophancy. But thankfully this isn’t a problem for this album. Instead, the big names are clearly there to serve and fit the Massive Attack sound which is unswervingly maintained throughout the course of the album.

The main problem with the record is that there aren’t really any great standalone tracks. Of course, Horace Andy lends his ever mysterious voice to ‘Girl I Love You’ and Guy Garvey’s vocals on ‘Flat of the Blade’ are great but both of these tracks seem best heard when listened to within the context of the rest of the album.

Whilst the album is composed of consistently strong tracks, there aren’t really any obvious hits and there are almost certainly no tracks that reach the glorious heights of certain previous singles. As such, this is an album best heard in its entirety so a listener can appreciate what is an elegantly constructed album full of tracks which totally work beside each other. And Massive Attack fans will enjoy the obvious care which went into the completion of this album, even if it took seven years to get right.

 

 

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