Sure, most of Massive Attack’s music over the year fits the bill for a Sunday afternoon, but today I’m going to focus on one album in particular: 1998’s Mezzanine. Why Mezzanine? Why not Protection? Wouldn’t something more laid back and old-school fit Sunday better? Short answer: yes. Protection is closer to an old pair of jeans you probably won’t wear out of the house, but still refuse to throw away, because they’ve become more than jeans. Whereas Mezzanine is something like a pair of shoes or a hat you probably paid too much for and only wear when you want to get fancy and go out. As impractical as it might be, sometimes you’ve still got to put on that fancy hat from time to time.
Mezzanine is that kind of fancy hat, equally at going out on the town as it is on an inside Sunday going through a box of old things you should throw away, but never do. It is like DJ Shadow’s album I featured a couple weeks ago, “Endtroducing…” in that it is a perfect, whole piece of work from start to finish. It takes a darker, more intense turn from their previous record, ‘Protection.’ Where ‘Protection’ was a sunny, peaceful dream, ‘Mezzanine’ is instead a fitful, desperate waking nightmare.
The beauty of ‘Mezzanine’ is subtle, and may take a few listening-and-nothing-else times through to find them all. It’s like a musical “Where’s Waldo” with its samples. My favorite is their use of “10:15 on a Saturday Night” by The Cure on “Man Next Door.” It is a gorgeous manipulation to fit it in the way it does, flawlessly and seemingly without effort. I loved this album so much that it prompted me to start a new rule, that if I love an album enough, I buy it on vinyl, where it manages to sound even better.
This Sunday, look for the little things, the things that don’t seem to be very big themselves but seem to make all the difference when it all comes together.