Heligoland

  • Record Label: Virgin
  • Release Date: Feb 9, 2010
Metascore
72

Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
  1. So while an army of griping fans and sniping critics will argue that Heligoland doesn’t match their early triumphs, or break as much new ground, there will be younger listeners who hear it as something entirely new and recognize it for the gloomily, beguiling beauty it is.
  2. The result is a record that alternates between fuzzy and crisp; those who like to get lost in their headphones should approve.
  3. 90
    While this record may have cast the veil of melancholy over a chunk of its tracks, the noticeable difference should be welcome to fans old and new.
  4. Instead of reintroducing the genre’s founding dub steps and club sensibilities, contributions from Massive Attack’s musical descendants (Blur/Gorillaz mastermind Damon Albarn, Portishead’s Adrian Utley) lend quieter atmospherics that amplify the emotion of the band’s mainstay whispers.
  5. It still warms the blood to hear those trip-hop synths roll on the slow-burning "Flat of the Blade" (with some acid loops thrown in for good measure), but Massive Attack's arsenal has expanded and the resulting onslaught is nothing short of brilliant.
  6. If the clusters of gloomy chords and ominous breakbeat that opens Pray for Rain suggests that Marshall's return hasn't lifted Massive Attack's musical mood, it's certainly done something to their sound, as evidenced by the ­juddering, dubby bassline of Paradise Circus, which is more beautiful than any song apparently named after a roundabout in central Birmingham has a right to be.
  7. Returning from a six-year long wilderness of soundtrack work and greatest hits, ‘Heligoland’ sees the duo back at the top of their game.
  8. Heligoland doesn't touch the perfection of Blue Lines, but few albums do. It is though a return to form from one of the real pioneering bands of our age.
  9. By the time the closing brass-driven sequences of the 3D-fronted ‘Almost Air’ ebb away, Massive Attack feel like a living, breathing vital force once again.
  10. 80
    Listening to the array of styles, from the Jim O'Rourke-like folk of "Psyche", laced with Martina Topley-Bird's cosmic incantation, to "Splitting The Atom"'s opiated rocksteady or Hope Sandoval's dusky ballad, "Paradise Circus", it's conceivable Del Naja and Marshall needed every minute of those years to concoct such alluring material.
  11. Alternative Press
    80
    Through it all, Massive Attack are more menacing than midnight in the darklands. Welcome back--you've been missed terribly. [Mar 2010, p.96]
  12. But the haunting horns under Horace Andy's vocal on "Girl I Love You" and mind-tickling thump of closer "Atlas Air" are pure genius from the minds of Grantley Marshall and Robert Del Naja: creepy and danceable.
  13. Thanks largely in part to founding member/mainstay Robert "3D" Del Naja, there still remains that indefinable, singular aspect to Massive Attack that still carried the group over the hump of 2003's tepid 100th Window and onto the superior Heligoland.
  14. Yet there's certainly no shame in falling behind three albums that are as brilliant as those are. For the fans, this is a blast - suddenly, trip-hop's Godfathers are back on track.
  15. 70
    Trip-hop pioneers give doom a romantic tinge.
  16. “Heligoland” comes across as an anthology rather than an album. It’s a dour collection of concepts and strategies — some successful — as Massive Attack ponders what to do after trip-hop.
  17. Horace Andy and Hope Sandoval front some impressive productions, and Damon Albarn's "Saturday Come Slow" is one of his best post-Blur features (including Gorillaz), but overall Heligoland lacks the majesty and might of classic Massive Attack.
  18. Entertainment Weekly
    67
    Haunting vocals by TV On The Radio's Tunde Adebimpe and Mazzy's Star's Hope Sandoval calm the jitters here, but the crew have gotten comfy just tripping out, but they sometimes forget the hooks. [12/19 Feb 2010, p.105]
  19. 65
    The album's dusty beats, pointed electronics, and cinematic feel are pleasantly familiar, at best they recall the band's past glory rather than pushing forward their legacy.
  20. Although much of Heligoland suggests that Massive Attack might finally have burned out, the glowing embers of what they once had can still be glimpsed providing a light in the dark.
  21. Fans who have spent the better part of a decade jonesing for exactly this kind of fix will surely appreciate the effort, but for the less dependent, the songs here offer little that the band hasn't already done better.
  22. Then, six songs into a characterless album, one on which ambience takes precedence over tunes, 3D and Daddy G unveil three stunning numbers that compare with anything in their back catalogue.
  23. Overall, though ‘Heligoland’ is a puzzling and frustrating listen. Some good tracks can’t hide the fact that this is the stuff of an identity crisis. It’s one thing to call on your famous friends to put flesh on your bones. It’s another if you leave the listener wondering if you’ve any spine at all.
  24. The music is strikingly less dense than before, though the production is as meticulous and measured as ever, but it’s also so deliberately bleak, so obvious in its intent to be capital-I Important, it all but dares you to turn your back and chuckle.
  25. Sure, it's a logical progression from 100th Window, but because their progressions are neither commonsense nor predictable, it's difficult to predict how it will hold up in terms of posterity.
  26. Mojo
    60
    [The album] sees the reunited Grand "Daddy G" Marshalll abnd Robert "3D" Del Naja proving they can still corner the market in atmospheric glooom, even if their era-defining days have passed. [Mar 2010, p.90]
  27. Q Magazine
    60
    Compared to the radical thrill of Portishead's equally long-gestated "Third," there's a sense Del Naja and Marshall are still feeling their way back. [Mar 2010, p.99]
  28. The undercurrent of menace and sadness that defined Massive Attack's best music is largely absent, replaced with a drowsy, half-formed gloom that, if anything, suggests resignation instead of dread.
  29. With personnel changes and a series of guest artists the names of which ever-increasingly overshadow whatever actual sounds they're making, Massive Attack have fought a continual struggle to surpass 1994's 'Protection'.
  30. Under The Radar
    50
    [These marquee name guests] might be the source to what is wrong with Heglioland. Usually, Massive mainstays, 3D and Daddy G, are able to bring somthing previously not experienced out of their collaborators. This time, nothing is connecting. [Winter 2010, p.69]
  31. When you listen to these gloomy trip-hop jams after their best work of the 90s, the results are underwhelming.
User Score
8.2

Universal acclaim- based on 87 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 6
  2. Negative: 0 out of 6
  1. Sep 9, 2010
    10
    When works such as this come out, the gradual mental sclerosis of the NME and such comes through more and more each year. The rise fo the indyWhen works such as this come out, the gradual mental sclerosis of the NME and such comes through more and more each year. The rise fo the indy critic has allowed us to distance ourselves from the noise and negativity of their talk, and particualry their self subtext of them being the ONLY reputed voice (I recall the Guardian critics giving their "definitive veredict" on Glasto and such, zzz... So yes. To me Heligoland is a brilliant album, a return to form after the disperse previous album, an expansion into younger and more international minds and sensibilities. Sometimes one feels listening to a Pina Bausch dance soundtrack, sometimes it's just plain Massive 2010, sometimes it's raw, but above all, it's A DARING PIECE OF WORK. So great to listen to their new ideas, breaking their mold, trying new sonic textures... I definitely feel those "important" writers in the UK really need to go out and see the world, becuase Heligoland has a feeling that really touches the zeitgeist. I suppose the Euro-Adult-centered reviewer or listener will miss out. The rest of the planet could be in awe of the sheer genius and collaborative spirit of this crucial work. Full Review »
  2. Oct 29, 2013
    8
    Very British. Grey clouds made more beautiful than any Carribean sunrise. Sometimes a bit repetitive, but never less than compelling.Very British. Grey clouds made more beautiful than any Carribean sunrise. Sometimes a bit repetitive, but never less than compelling. ("Paradise Circus"; "Pray for Rain") Full Review »
  3. May 21, 2012
    8
    The latest album from the Massive Attack crew is full of good stuff, even if very little of it is as groundbreaking or as impressive as theirThe latest album from the Massive Attack crew is full of good stuff, even if very little of it is as groundbreaking or as impressive as their best work. Some very interesting collaborations, most of which work really well. Alot of the record has a typical Massive Attack sound which in many ways is the only disappointing thing about the record. Damon Albarns appearance on the track "Saturday Come Slow" is the highlight for me - a fantastic track and really lifts the album to another level. Full Review »