Portishead - Portishead
Critic Score
Based on 7 reviews
1997 Ratings: #16 / 78
User Score
Based on 444 ratings
1997 Ratings: #18
Liked by 23 people
September 30, 1997 / Release Date
LP / Format
Go!/London / Label
Trip Hop / Genres
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Entertainment Weekly

This sophomore spook-athon from chilly U.K. combo Portishead clanks across the attic, via Geoff Barrow’s skeletal samples and funereal keyboards. Beth Gibbons’ surgical-steel voice on Portishead slices into her partner’s scraps of musical meat, for an effect that’s hypnotic, bloodless, and addictive.


An album that reveals more with each listen and becomes more captivating and haunting each time it's played.


Portishead has turned despair's dead-end into a highway of possibilities.

Slant Magazine

While other so-called trip-hop acts moved in a more accessible, trip-pop direction in the late 1990s, Portishead became stiffer, sinking more deeply into manic melodrama and the dingy recesses of the macabre. In a sense, a third studio album is essential to validate Portishead‘s glorious Middle Child Syndrome.


Portishead comes very close to matching the twisting, dark road spirals of Dummy after it's sunk itself into your skull, and has permanently engraved itself in that giant slab of cold concrete that is the history of your life.


Fundamentally it does all sound the same and, in true goth fashion, cheerily runs the full gamut of emotion from misery to unhappiness.

Rolling Stone
The entire record is an exercise in barren claustrophobia, as if Portishead had spent the past three years burrowing deeper and deeper into a self-obsessed, self-contained world. At this point, we can only hope — for their sake and for the listeners' — that they come up for air soon.
i immediately felt how influential Portishead’s self-titled sophomore effort would be for my life.

"only you", for example, presents a rush, a calm, an inhale, a pharcyde smooth piano solo, and
beth gibbons’ knarled voice rattling in with spy film horror and swagger. this all brings the listener to the present moment.

in many regards 'portishead' is better than its predecessor. 'portishead' is more refined and the skills are more advanced. i can’t even describe ... read more
Portishead's debut album had a wide range of emotions that frequently felt desolate and despondent, all channeled through the programming efforts of Geoff Barrow, the instrumental effort of Adrian Utley, and the expressive vocals of Beth Gibbons. Three years later, after remaining out of the public eye, the trio return with a sophomore album far more concerned with sounding unholy rather than unhappy. The frequent wickedness of Portishead's self-titled album feels perfectly in tune with what ... read more
This is Dummy's evil cousin. Dummy was all about funky alien/monster grooves, while this one is like taking a walk through a haunted forest filled with finger vines and skeletons. Something oddly soothing in this very threatening environment. Maybe it's the Ketamine.
Gibbons gets in touch with her inner witch bitch and goes to work pissing on everyone's pancakes.

Don't even think of setting the intro to 'Cowboys' as your morning wake up alarm.

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