Published Sep 03, 2020Upon first listen, Tricky's 14th LP sounds like one of those mid-career back-to-basics affairs, rife with crackling low-end bass, looped piano streams and 65 bpm speak-songs. But once you discover the pain and sorrow behind it, Fall to Pieces takes on an entirely different posture. Written and recorded not long after the sudden death of his daughter, Mazy Mina Topley-Bird, at age 24, the trip-hop pioneer finds himself veering headfirst into new emotional terrain. But it makes sense that nearly everything else about Fall to Pieces comes off familiar and dependable, as Tricky uses steadfast slight arrangements along with two-and-three-minute runtimes to appropriately express his feelings, often through a female voice (this time around by Polish musician Marta Złakowska).
Whether it by design or out of necessity, the starkness of these 11 tracks expertly display his utterly bare, exposed and painful lyrics, as the deceptively buoyant "Chills Me to the Bone" demonstrates: "From the depths of my despair, I can't wait to meet you there." On the aching and grinding "Hate This Pain," Tricky takes the mic to weep, "What a fucking game, I hate this fucking pain, was crying on the coast, baby girl she knew me most."
But what makes this scant 28-minute LP more than a proverbial one-trick pony actually stems from Tricky's ability to make large statements through tiny tweaks to his typical style of melody and beat, giving tracks like the throbbing "Fall Please" and the elastic but dark "Take Me Shopping" a third dimension. Tricky has injected so much raw emotion into Fall to Pieces that it can't help but stand out as one of his most notable, memorable and authentic releases. (False Idols)