An incredible LP with almost everything going for it. A classic.
Liz Frasier of Cocteau Twins joins Horace Andy and the rest of the Massive crew (minus Tricky who is out making his own stuff). It's pretty easy to sum up this CD -- it's one of the best out there. "Mezzanine" is a totally easy jumping off point for someone who wants to check out Massive Attack. Listen to the first two tracks and it's not for you, it's not for you and that's that. This album is much more musically complex and dissonant than the two previous and as a result it is harder to get into. As a trade off, once you get used to it, it will be in your car CD/bedroom CD player/wherever for a while. A looooong while. It has a LOT more energy than the other discs. There is much more of an intimidating, driving crash to this CD than other Massive Attack works. The only criticism is that sometimes it simply gives too much, not withholding enough to keep the listeners tension high.
1) Angel - The CD begins with arguably its best track. This music has been used in a number of movies and you will probably recognize it right away. Horace Andy provides the vocal, which is memorable, but only to the extent that it adds to the instrumentation. You are likely to forget at some point while listening to this song that those are actual lyrics. This is an amazingly captivating song. This may also be one of the best "baby making" songs of all time.
2) Risingson - Like Angel, Risingson pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the CD. This is a rap song unlike Angel, so that might be the deciding factor in which you prefer. The intensity is again really something. There is not the same kind of driving rift here than Angel has.
3) Teardrop - This song is a little out of place on the CD. It would have been a better fit on "Protection" as it is quite a bit more fragile and soft than the other songs. If you have never heard of the Cocteau Twins, listening to Liz Frasier here might make you want to check them out. This may also have the strangest video of all time. The video focuses on a close-up of a fetus singing in the womb. Downloadable, it would be worth a look. It's a very pensive song. Good rainy day music. I have no idea why it was the single though.
4) Inertia Creeps - Okay, back to the flow. Another rap track for you. For my money, this is a better track than Risingson. Personally, I find it extremely sexy musically. The drums in it are just off the hook. It's also one of the most accessible tracks. It makes a good first track to listen to. The lyrics also make more sense, relatively speaking, than many of the others. Inertia Creeps will stay a favorite for a long time.
5) Exchange - Here we have an instrumental track. Sort of jazzy in nature, I can't help feeling let down. These tracks seem more useful in the context of the full CD to give the listener time to cool down emotionally. Still, to me that is pretty much the definition of filler. Well, others might appreciate it more, but let's just say Exchange pales in comparison.
6) Dissolved Girl - Now this is a cool track. Right off the bat, I was not particularly drawn to it, but later it started to really grab me. Recently, Dissolved has become one of my favorite tracks. Sara Jay is a singer I would like to hear more from. When she sings, "I need a little love to ease the pain, Its easy to remember when you came," it,s pretty moving. The driving rifts of Angel return on this track though the song dips into it just a little before pulling you back - you'll be left wanting more. This is the best track of the disc on 80% of almost any other CD. Here it's pretty much average.
7) Man Next Door - Horace Andy really cuts out on this track. Next Door is not my favorite. I personally find his voice a little annoying. Still this is not a bad song by any means, it's just not why I listen to the CD. It has a lot of lyrics, which I feel disrupt the music a bit.
8) Black Milk - I have heard people refer to this song as the best song on the planet to "mack" to. Again, Liz Frasier returns to really steal the show with her ethereal vocals. The word "ethereal" probably best describes this song. This song is extremely bass heavy and disorienting.
9) Mezzanine - This song is pretty representative of what has become the Massive Attack sound. Mezzanine is not my favorite track, but its pretty good. Very mellow. This track is more like a Tricky song than Attack. You can almost imagine Tricky's breathy voice on this track.
10) Group 4 - How do I review this song? First of all, its over 8 minutes long and as a result, it is a bit too long. On the other hand, it's practically two songs in terms of content. Just listen to the first bit and then jump to around the 6:30 mark to see what it has become. Group 4 is definitely a progression, but since the progression pretty much happens steadily, you never really see it coming. Just imagine a song that builds up for 6 minutes. This is a pretty good idea of what to expect here.
11) Exchange - After the last couple minutes of Group 4, this song is pretty much just on board to see you out the door with your hat intact. As a stand-alone track, it's totally forgettable. As part of the larger whole, it fits well. If you are only going to listen to a few songs, or want to listen to the CD out of sequence I'd forget about this one.
There you have it. It's an incredibly brooding, sexy CD. Some find it too brooding and prefer "Protection". Other critics have noted "Mezzanine" is essentially derivative of the other Massive efforts that preceded it and therefore don't find it as ground-breaking. These are fair comments, but if you were looking for the pinnacle of the genre, "Mezzanine" would be a fair place to plant your flag.