The last time Portishead put out a studio album, George W. Bush was still president, and as staggering a fact as it may be, that's the last time frontperson Beth Gibbons was involved in a full-length LP.
Mind you, the band hasn't been completely MIA since the release of Third in 2008: the following year, they released a download-only single, "Chase the Tear," for Human Rights Day to raise money for Amnesty International UK, and in 2016 the band recorded and released a video for their cover of ABBA's "S.O.S." (even though it wasn't actually released properly as a single until 2021). And, yes, in 2022, they did their first live gig in seven years as part of a benefit for War Child UK. But that's about it.
In 2013, however, singer Beth Gibbons announced that she'd signed a solo deal, and all seemed right with the world as fans anxiously awaited the end result of this delightful news...and they awaited and awaited and kept awaiting. Indeed, they are still awaiting the album in question, but at long last, it would appear that the wait is finally almost at an end.
Gibbons took to Instagram earlier today and posted a photo of a handwritten letter, one which provided fans with an update on her musical goings-on, and while you can certainly read the letter for yourself if you're of a mind to - just click right here - we also have the text available right here:
Hi, it’s been a while but finally along with Domino I am able to offer some new music very soon.
It has been a long journey and spans over a decade, it’s called ‘Lives Outgrown’.
As usual it reflects what’s been going on with me internally, my 50’s have brought forward a new yet older horizon. It has been a time of farewells to family, friends and even to who I was before, the lyrics mirroring my anxieties and sleepless nighttime ruminations, hence ‘Lives Outgrown’. Not just because of the way we travel through emotional or psychological transitions in our lives but relating more to the time we leave this planet and our motion into the unknown. Something I fear but just need to try and celebrate as a moment approaching, gifting the ability to grow beyond the restraints of this physical world.
The sound was also a process, exploring structures within my own personal capabilities. I wanted to draw away from breakbeats and snares, focusing on the woody fabric of timbres away from the sugary addiction of high frequencies that satisfy like sugar and salt.
I hope those of you who have been so loyal and supportive over the years along with any new listeners will enjoy.
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So to sum up, we still don't really know when the album will come out, and it's a bit difficult to tell precisely what we can expect from the sound of the new album, but at least we've got a title and at least a little bit of a feel for the musical and lyrical content, and considering how long we've been waiting for any news whatsoever, that's not half bad.
While we all sit around and anxiously await an actual release for Gibbons' solo debut, we can at least enjoy this single that she released a few months back, which finds her providing vocals to a mash-up of Joy Division's "Atmosphere" and David Bowie's "Heroes" as performed by the Miraculous Love Kids.