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Boomkat Product Review:
Billed in part as a depiction of Tricky's upbringing in a Bristol council estate, Knowle West Boy would ostensibly find him looking back towards his own roots, all filtered through his wildly diverse musical influences and points of references. The very fact that he's co-produced this record with Suede veteran Bernard Butler suggests he's not afraid of recruiting contributors from very different musical walks of life, and sure enough, the interdisciplinary spread of ideas on this album pays off, from the orchestral dancehall of 'Bacative' to the swaggering glam rock of 'C'mon Baby'. In fact, each track seems to have its own discreet identity: 'Puppy Toy' starts the album off with some languid blues, but not long after, 'Veronika's reductive combination of vocals and warped drum machine thuds makes for a seemingly unrelated gesture towards minimalism. In direct contrast to the Switch-mixed single 'Council Estate' there are a couple of extravagantly compressed slow jams on here too - the gloomy balladry of 'Past Mistake', and the cinematic exotica of 'Cross To Bear'. Then, from out of nowhere Tricky goes and covers Kylie on 'Slow', which sounds an awful lot grimier than the original, piling on particularly lascivious guitars. One of the least predictable songs here, last track 'School Gates' is an ode to teen pregnancy takes on an oddly folksy slant, half Clannad, half Various Production's 'Home', making for an atmospheric, if unusual finale.