[Lead singer Beth] Gibbons' trembling voice used to sound bluesy and erotic --"It Could Be Sweet," from their debut, could have been pillow talk verbatim. On the second record, she often threw in a vampy, nasal quality that cut the generally depressive tone with a touch of humor. What singer could take herself seriously while doing a Shirley Bassey impression? On "Third," Gibbons takes herself entirely too seriously, moving between a whispery, disaffected moan and a fluttery, anxious whine. She always sounds powerless, like she's about to burst into tears. The folky numbers, like "Hunter," have a very listenable, austere atmosphere, but not a sensual one -- Portishead has lured you and your partner to their dark Transylvanian castle, but you'll be sleeping in separate quarters.One of the tracks from the new album, "Machine Gun," is up on their MySpace page.
Oh, snap. He's right, it's a totally different sound. I'm not going into mourning just yet: true, it's no Roads or Mysterons, but I'll still buy the new album anyway.