Sunday, March 21, 2010


Plastic Beach
(Parlophone and Virgin Records)

Gorillaz return to the public consciousness with an album more complex and layered than their previous two.

You probably know Daman Albarn and Jamie Hewlett under the pseudonym of 'Gorillaz', the duo who masquerade as a fictional cartoon band that seem to rarely play any actual instruments. Songs like 'Clint Eastwood'  and '19-2000' were successful back in 2001 and the team exploded with the release of their second Demon Days in 2005. Five years later the artists have made a much anticipated return that goes in an intriguing direction.

Like Mark Ronson and Jay-Z before them, Gorillaz have made a stylistic choice to include a range of different 'guest artists' in almost every song on Plastic Beach. Most notably, Snoop Dogg performs on the opening track proclaiming "Welcome to the Plastic Beach" and setting the tone for the next 50 minutes of surreal sounds.

Each song on Plastic Beach is highly textured and rich. In their previous work the duo were simple, fun and to the point. In this installment, however, they've tried to create an ambience through extremely complex melodies and instrumentation. Bursts of Middle Eastern horns and other bizzare inclusions add a new dimension to the music and keep the listener enthralled. This is music designed to engulf and encapsulate. The songs waft through and absorbs you in the moment. You can almost smell the music and it's rich and consuming, like the scent of old spice.

However, the only way to truly become absorbed and enjoy this album is to ignore the pretentious manner in which the whole thing is conducted. By track eight or nine the novelty of foreign instrumentation wears off and just becomes showy. Furthermore one of Gorillaz greatest strengths, their lyrics, are ignored in the last half of the track. 'Stylo' leaves its listener wholly underwhelmed especially when compared to other stronger pieces such as 'Superfast Jellyfish'.

In the end Gorillaz have done a great job in maintaining interest and creativity in their music which was at risk of growing stale and being repetitive. Despite some flaws Plastic Beach delivers on the promises it makes and is a pleasure to listen to.

Upside: 'Superfast Jellyfish'. A song that revels in its surreal style.

Downside: 'Stylo'. As far as first singles go it's a pretentious hit and miss.

Best Lyric:

Sounds like:
Notorious B.I.G with a strong techno-melodic undertone. Surreal sounds meets real beats.

"Superfast, superfast, I come in last. But just in time for breakfast/Keep it through, keep it true, forever blue"

1 comment:

  1. amen! Some Kind of Nature with Lou Reed is another stand out.