Marina Topley-Bird first came to our attention by way of Tricky; hers was the playfully insouciant voice that popped up throughout his trip-hop masterworks of the mid-’90s. The low profile she’s maintained since then officially ends with the release of ”Anything” (originally titled ”Quixotic” when it came out in the U.K. last year), the first album released under her own name.
On sonic caverns like Tricky’s ”Maxinquaye,” Topley-Bird’s delivery had a tart, almost judgmental edge to it. These days, her voice is more of a drowsy, sensual buzz. Her producers must have realized that such a delivery, while perfect for cameos, could wear thin over a full album. So they’ve encircled Topley-Bird with an array of soundscapes that compensate for her lack of vocal firepower. Anything glides beguilingly from spaced-out slow jams (”Soul Food”) to techno cabaret (”Sandpaper Kisses”) to gospel electronica (”Outro”) to whiplash-crack eeriness (”Too Tough to Die”). She even dabbles in freeze-dried arena rock on ”Need One,” featuring such unlikely collaborators as Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age and ex-Screaming Tree Mark Lanegan. Even when other tracks resort to boutique-friendly quasi-decadence, ”Anything” makes the case for life after trip-hop.