On the cover of his new record, Tricky stands stoic and bare-chested, with purposeful ripped jeans, against a streaked yellow and white background. All this is supposed to convey the new direction of both his music and personal life. Inside a CD player, the silver disc conveys the same ethereal, dual-vocalic assault that he has always presented. The susceptibility may be there on Vulnerable, but how that differs from Maxinquaye is anyone’s guess.
Tricky provides the same formula that made trip-hop a new genre, and Tricky a dancehall staple for a while. The breathy and subtle (un)emotionality of his vocals are usually coupled with disjointed compositions revolving from techno beats and slipping into rock grooves (“High How” and “Where I’m From”).
Dance tracks like “Ice Pick” and “Hollow” are interesting fodder for nightclubs, but the most attention-getting tracks here are his two cover songs. Tricky’s version of XTC’s “Dear God” is poppier than I remember the original; the double, overlapping vocal and background sirens are a bit much, and over produced. And, The Cure’s “The Love Cats” is sexed-up some with Tricky’s breathy vocals.
Vulnerable is great for Tricky completists, but newbies are better off looking to his earlier work.