Say My Name, Say My Name
The titling of Tricky’s 11th album with his birth name, Adrian Thaws, is a move loaded with meaning. He’s been here since the beginning of trip-hop, yet he remains as complex and mysterious as the music he makes in (and based on) that genre. And the name on the marquee isn’t the only prominent thing here that’s somehow a combination of the new, the familiar, and the sublimely interesting. He told the Consequence of Sound website that this album contained his takes on club music and hip-hop. This undersells most of the work on here, suggesting Tricky is merely aping strains of Top 40 music with urban leanings from Kanye to Nicki to even Lorde.
Tricky cements the straight rap feel on tracks featuring wheedling, vulgar British female gangsta Bella Gotti (“Gangster Chronicles,” “Why Don’t You”). There’s also the spare Mykki Blanco vehicle “Lonnie Listen,” which cycles back to a desperate central rhyme: “Exercise every day and I’m still not fit / My kids are hungry and I ain’t got shit / What I’m gonna do, what I’m gonna do, what you gonna do?” His versions of club bangers, however, are still mostly rooted in the dark, supple music he’s pursued for most of his career. “Sun Down” in fact revisits his earliest slurred vocals and beats up against an insistent ticking clock, and Oh Land! joins in for the similarly slinky “Right Here.” “Nicotine Love” might be the closest Tricky’s come to a traditional dance track, begging to be remixed to perfection.
Two big things set this album apart from the long downward slope of Tricky’s discography. First, he’s been a skillful curator of collaborators since pulling Martina Topley-Bird onto Maxinquaye, and from Francesca Belmonte floating atop “Something in the Way” forward he may have quietly outdone himself here. Second, many of Tricky’s arrangements on this album venture into the realm of the—dare we say it?—beautiful. There’s an Alice in Chains-like riff that bleeds into pseudo-industrial noises on “Keep Me in Your Shake,” and that might be when you know you have a special secret in your music library. Tricky albums of late have been met with little more than kind pats on his career’s shoulder, but underestimating Adrian Thaws would be a serious mistake.