Massive Attack, Mezzanine
At their most musically articulate
One could call Mezzanine Massive Attack's "rock" album. That's not to say the heady mix of beat-driven music that comprised the group's sound prior to this has been abandoned. But when opening track "Angel" — a rewrite of recurring collaborator Horace Andy's rocksteadier "You Are My Angel" — switches from its slinky bass-heavy groove to a mix of over-amped guitar and industrial strength drums, it's clear Massive Attack is long past the need for a throwback single like "Protection" or "Unfinished Sympathy."
Mezzanine is by far the group's most sinister album, with even the soaring "Teardrop" (fittingly sung by the Cocteau Twins' Elizabeth Fraser) hiding a dark heart. It also finds the group at their most musically articulate, with its meticulous construction mirroring the record's cover art (a beetle sculpture made up of parts from a Volkswagon). Polyglottal patchworks like "Inertia Creeps" and "Rising Son" are seamless wonders, but the most impressive achievement here is "Man Next Door," which manages to make one of rock 'n' roll's most famous drum breaks (Led Zeppelin's "When The Levee Breaks") heavier and nearly unrecognizable. If trip-hop wasn't killed by the endless parade of beat-jacking dummies riding on Massive Attack's coattails, then Mezzanine made damn sure that corpse was six feet under.