An ongoing mission to explore rock and roll and the lands beyond. Life would never be what it is without the joy of music to carry us through the good times and the bad. The mission of this blog is to explore some of my favorite music and hopefully open your ears up to something you might end up loving that you hadn't previously checked out.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Review on 'Plastic Beach' the new album by Gorillaz
Plastic Beach is the first new Gorillaz album since 2005's Demon days and it shows the quartet of primates moving further down the concept album rabbit hole. While concept albums always start with good intentions they often become nothing but self-indulgent ear garbage. On the plastic beach however, the Gorillaz actually pull it off without slipping into that cataclysm. This record took two years for Albarn and company to write and the time was well spent. It really blends together as an album and is an interesting hodge podge of songs mostly revolving around life on the 'Plastic Beach' which is an island that Gorillaz bassist Murdoc has spirited the band away to in order to coerce them into making the album. All sorts of weirdness abounds between the tracks on this album such as Murdoc forcing 2D to stay on the island by keeping him terrified of a monstrous whale, or the fact that Murdoc has somehow replaced Noodle with a robotic counter part. The album is described by the band as a picture of our plasticized world and the new breed of humanity living on it. At the same time they are quick to point out that they are not making a statement and that this is definitely not a 'green' album.
Plastic Beach also follow the success they found through collaboration (with past songs like Feel Good Inc. ) by inviting a host of some of the biggest names in music to join them on the record. Mos Def, Lou Reed, Bobby Womack, Mick Jones and Paul Simonon are just some of the artists making cameos on the Plastic Beach. Seeing so many artists on this album kind of deflated my expectations at first but they are all used brilliantly here. The one downside I saw with all these fantastic artists contributing their talents is that we are missing out on Damon Albarn's fantastic vocals on the majority of the tracks. After a few listens to the album I realized that this lack of Albarn actually works for him instead of against him. It leaves you craving his sound until the odd track rolls up that actually features him and it makes you enjoy it twice as much as a result.
Stand-out tracks on this album are definitely the singles. Stylo is a fantastic track packed with an intense post disco beat that embraces rock and electro at the same time. Starting out the track is a wicked intro by none other than Mos Def and the chorus is sung by Albarn at is most phoned in style yet. The song climaxes with Bobby Womack cranking out the soul like he hasn't done in years and he really succeeds in turning a great song into an even greater song. SuperFast Jelly Fish (one of my fave tracks on the record) sees the return of De La Soul, the New York hip hop trio that last rocked with Gorillaz on Feel Good Inc. On Melancholy Hill is a fantastic number that features Albarn at his best and is a seductive song that could have been featured on a Blur album. Some Kind Of Nature is the kind of track I really hadn't expected from Gorillaz. I don't know how they managed to convince Lou Reed to do a song with them but it worked out splendidly on all fronts. His vocals resonate out from your speakers like the living dead and you shudder at first and then say to yourself "Is that Lou Reed?". Well it sure is!
All in all it is a fantastic album and I highly recommend it. Some of the tracks take a few listens before you really get into them but I kind of enjoy it when I like an album more after listening to it a few times. I also really like how the album flows with such timing. While songs like Stylo pump and thrash to a high energy beat, other songs really mellow it out which gives the album a well-rounded sense that makes it easy to listen to in many moods throughout the day. Included here is the video for Stylo, the first single off Plastic Beach. Enjoy!!!