I downloaded it a while ago, and I was blown away by it. I may have been predisposed to liking it, since I tend to agree that Dummy is a flawless masterpiece and one of the best albums I have ever heard.
The eponymous follow-up was more of the same - it had some cracking tracks, but it was hardly innovative.
Then, of course, people started ripping off the Portishead sound, and a thousand pale imitations never came close to matching the original.
Portishead said they wanted to make something as groundbreaking as the first (which took a while to achieve the ubiquity and acceptability to the mainstream it eventually did). I think they've achieved that much. A couple of tracks (like 'Magic Doors'
hark back to the older sound, but their use of antique synths (always a plus in my books) and frankly alarming percussion (I am quite taken with what can only be a deliberately perverse decision to put 'Machine Gun' out as the single...) has moved them forwards considerably.
They had mastered the sound of melancholy, as if something bad but unidentified had happened from which we'd never recover; on the new album, that mood moves towards something more apocalyptic.
Beth Gibbons' voice can still send a shiver down my spine every time I hear it.
I was also lucky enough to see them live a couple of weeks ago, and it may well be the best concert I've ever been to (and I've been to a fair few).
In short: it's OK, I suppose...