Tricky - Fall to Pieces (Cover Artwork)


Fall to Pieces (2020)

False Idols

Tricky has always been a man of mourning. From his beginnings in trip-hop pioneers Massive Attack and on through his 14 solo albums, his is a smoky voice of sorrow. His blend of hip hop, electronica, rock, blues, and soul has been steadfast in its creativity, exhibiting an artist who sometimes seems to mourn his art. Hidden behind his own cloudy repertoire, Tricky’s demons nestle comfortably, but mature aggressively.

But even Tricky could not have been prepared for the level of mourning he came to experience in 2019, when his daughter Mazy died at her own hand. Although likely the furthest thought from his mind at the time, this tragic event caused him to completely rethink the album he had recently begun work on (as well as to edit his autobiography Hell Is Round the Corner; a fantastic read). That album soon became 2020’s Fall to Pieces.

The most succinct and raw full length Tricky has possibly ever done, Fall to Pieces holds back on much of what we’d normally hear on a Tricky record. The bare bones of “Thinking Of” and “Close Now” hit like singular icy raindrops, the passing thoughts of a brief poem that still leaves remnants. “Running Off” delicately progresses on the minimalist beats, adding a beautiful and fragrant guitar sample. Like most of the album, these all feature a relatively unknown singer named Marta Złakowska. Usually known for incorporating a laundry list of guest stars, this direction leads to an air of conciseness on the album for Tricky. Or perhaps of a man shedding all that he can as he gasps for air.

On “Hate This Pain”, the stripped down production deceives Tricky’s growl, allowing us to hear clearly the tremble in his voice, nearly holding back tears. Złakowska’s breezy voice steps in to shoulder some of the weight; a reprieve for a broken man. She follows this with the hopeful “Chills Me to the Bone”. An industrial-tinged ballad with a soothing cello, it offers promise for the next step with lines like “It’s just me on the phone/Until we feel/then we grow” and “From the depths of my despair/I can’t wait to meet you there/I’ll get back”.

“Fall Please” could be the most traditionally Tricky song here. It has a booming rhythm and short, breathy vocal lines; certainly not a song that would be out of place in an underground dance club. “Like a Stone”, in contrast, is a slow duet that moves through a dense atmosphere, two drained souls searching for respite. Closing track “Vietnam” touches on Tricky’s experiences with racism, especially within the music industry. His ominous rumble creeps behind Złakowska’s more delicate contralto, an ongoing struggle to be heard as they relay “I’m black boy and you hear my song/And I’m that toy and we carry on”.

Fall to Pieces was built on struggle. The fight to tribute properly while also not becoming encompassed in grief, the fight to find meaning in career relevance during an unspeakably tragic personal time. Tricky asked a lot of himself on this album, and he came out on top. While the disparities in style choices can make for a bumpy front-to-back listen, it’s been a long time since Tricky has conveyed such raw emotion over the entirety of a record. Fall to Pieces is a triumph.

If you, or someone you know, need support, call the toll-free, 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also text HOME to 741741 for free, which offers 24/7 support from the Crisis Text Line.