Top to Bottom to Top: Tricky’s Mixed Race

trickyI’ve never hid my insane fan-boy love for Tricky, but I’ve also more or less fallen off the bandwagon after a few years of disappointment. If anyone ever brings up Maxinquaye I instantly have found a new friend and start talking their ear off about Pre-Millennium Tension, Juxtapose, and Angels With Dirty Faces. I can’t really tell you what my favorite Tricky album is, depending on the time of my life I would have given you a different answer. Now when I look back on them all I have different reasons for liking each of the previously mentioned albums and it’s hard for me to choose. I even liked BlowBack with the exception of the Nirvana cover, which I always skip over to not sully my listening experience ( I used to defend the cover, but no longer. I understand the error of my ways). Hell, my first purchase was Nearly God. Yeah, sad I know.

After BlowBack I sort of stopped listening. I still tried, but Vulnerable never clicked with me, I just couldn’t get into Knowle West Boy no matter how many people would recommend it. It just wasn’t the same anymore. At first I had the overly pretentious thought that maybe I had grown up and wasn’t into it anymore. Listening to Tricky brings me back to a very specific time and place in my life, living in Nashville and, for the most part, skateboarding around the streets in Tennessee. It was very calming, almost meditative.

Wow, so all that and I haven’t mentioned Mixed Race yet. And all I can say (well not all) is that I’ve found it to be just as charming as when I was listening to Pre-Millenium Tension on repeat all of those years ago. It’s very much a chill out, throw it on the record play, spark up and enjoy kind of album, which is what I always hope to hear from Tricky.

One thing is that the album ends far too quickly, which isn’t necessarily a bad problem to have but just when I’m really into the album it ends. I would have loved an extended version of Every Day, the opening track. The more and more I listen the more I like the album, but the more I grow disappointed with the length. Nothing feels half-assed or unfinished: every track, overdub, tambourine crash, beat sounds great with an immense care taken to each and every track. But I just wanted more.

The tracks move from style to style, passing through reggae, soft rock, jazz, 50’s beat, hip hop, dance hall, numerous world styles, early 90s electronica and on and on. Tricky has never stood still, and as he looks back on his life and writes his most autobiographical album of his career it makes sense that it wouldn’t just wear one distinct hat. No song ever sounds out of place, the album flows from one track to the next, building upon itself, the tracks before it, after it and one’s that we used to listen to skateboarding.

And in less than 30 minutes it’s over.