Massive Attack

Virgin, 1994

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


Protection is a starkly different record than its predecessor, Blue Lines. While Blue Lines, with its incorporation of urban soul and dance music created a genre on its own, Protection, on the other hand, conforms to the dance music scene of its time. The album’s laidback, oftentimes ambient sound lacks the fire that my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Blue Lines had in amply spirited measures; this is an album without soul.

But for a deliberate chill-out record, Protection is no dud. Trading the passionate Shara Nelson for the more relaxed Nicolette and Tracey Thorn appropriately gives the album its own voice and a distinctly sultry appeal. The Nicolette-sung cuts “Three” and “Sly” cleverly twist the campy upbeat Eurodance music of the ‘90s, slowing them down to a relaxing, downtempo pace, and with her very sensual vocals, give them a jazzy nonchalance. On the other hand, Thorn’s songs “Protection” and “Better Things” have a darker appeal and a one-of-a-kind, minimalistic composition, which is different than anything in dance music of its time.

However, the bloopers on Protection are plenty and are unforgivable. The vapid instrumental “Weather Storm,” a perfect piped music for an elevator, is a total abomination. “Heat Miser,” another instrumental, isn’t as bad with its catchy piano-laden pop music melodiousness, but is just too insipid to be on a Massive Attack record. Furthermore, there are the two cuts sung by Horace Andy: “Spying Glass,” which is the clumsiest mishmash of reggae and techno ever, and the live cover version of The Doors’ classic “Light My Fire,” which, if taken positively, is a classic example of how a great song could be butchered so perfectly.

With its ups and downs, Protection is an inconsistent and unsatisfying record, even though the exceptional cuts on the album – namely “Protection” and “Karmacoma” – are timeless masterpieces. Massive Attack didn’t fail, but they could’ve done much better.

Rating: B

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