Tricky: Mixed Race

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Tricky

Album: Mixed Race
Label: Domino

Fifteen years ago, Tricky’s Maxinquaye seemed opulent and otherworldly, and it still does. But much of Tricky’s subsequent output has mined the same basic idea—found and fabricated loops that communicate dread and lust—to lesser, sometimes coarser, effect. Initially, Mixed Race sounds like the first Tricky album since 1996’s Pre-Millennium Tension to feature that early sensibility again. But soon enough, the obvious loops (“Peter Gunn” on “Murder Weapon”; David Essex’s “Rock On” for “Every Day”) start sounding really obvious, like a dystopian round of karaoke. And while there are moments when his old jaggedness cuts through—the scraping “Early Bird” brings Tom Waits to mind, while “Ghetto Stars” has an eerie keening quality suggestive of industrial screech—Mixed Race is long on half-digested detours. “Hakim” tries on Middle Eastern modes to sort-of-interesting effect, while “Kingston Logic” and “Really Real” move toward straighter dance music without much feel for it. Even though he’s past the days of hiring the Red Hot Chili Peppers to cover “Theme From Wonder Woman,” Tricky still has a ways to go before he recaptures his former glory.