Portishead: 3

2nd May 2008 – 7.32 am

The NME had a glowing review of Portishead's third album recently, which piqued my interest. Their first album, Dummy, is excellent, their second is much bleaker but still good, and this third album is supposedly even better. That it comes many years after their previous release makes it more interesting.

Then I saw an advert or two for the album on TV, and I find myself no longer wanting to get the album. It's not that I have no desire to buy music that seems destined to become popular, but it's the way the album is being presented. The advertisement didn't promote the music as much as the brand recognition of Portishead the band, appealing to those who remember them on purely emotive terms. It no longer seems to be about buying good music if I get the album, which was the impression I got after reading the NME review, I now feel like I will be buying conformity. It's as if I'll be fulfilling an erroneous sense of duty as a consumer, or buying an item solely so I can engage others in conversation about it. I buy music because I want to listen to it, not so that I can feel validated by others who make the same choice.

This impression I have is not anything against the band, or indeed the album itself, as it could be as good as the review indicates. But the marketing makes me feel that this isn't the musical cream rising to the top but something as yet unindentified being pushed and forced towards the top. If a brand is being pushed how much can I trust a review, particularly in times when opinions can be bought if not directly then by the threat of withdrawing advertising money? It's a shame that marketing tries so hard to sell things to people who don't want them, as it will also deter some legitimate sales. Hopefully, I'll hear some of the new Portishead album on the radio or elsewhere and be able to make up my own mind, and if not then maybe it isn't that good to start with.

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