“Plastic Beach” – Gorillaz
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So this would usually be an album worthy of a joint review, but we’ve been a bit slack and it would seem that the joint reviews may have to wait until the debut album from Tame Impala gets released. It is a shame though, because as you will soon read, this is a completely amazing album and is quite possibly Damon Albarn’s best work to date.
So, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of either Gorillaz or Damon Albarn’s band, Blur. He’s made or been associated with music from pretty much every genre imaginable and he’s rarely made a bad album. Gorillaz’s self-titled debut was extremely pop influenced compared to that of Blur and the monicker of Gorillaz also allowed him to experiment with hip hop and other genres that would be impossible in a band like Blur. “Demon Days” was their second album and was one of my favourite albums for the naughties, it was extremely dark but had some great pop songs that received a lot of radio airplay.
Damon Albarn has once again made an original and accessible album. “Plastic Beach” is quite possibly his most pop sounding album, and yet I absolutely adore it. It’s a prime example of what pop music can be when it’s made by great artists, there’s a lot of crap in pop music at the moment and it all seems to be trying to be the same type of music. Gorillaz has shown how to make that electronic-like music sound intelligent and musical.
The most remarkable track off the album is the first single ‘Stylo’. It’s basically chorus-less and yet it still has a big hook, while being extremely structured as well. It’s also weird that it was chosen as the first single, because of it unusual qualities. Don’t get me wrong, I reckon it’s one of the best tracks on the album, it’s just a surprising choice for a first single. It’s also got a great transition between to greatly different styled vocalists, Mos Def and Bobby Womack, it’s a refreshing surprise and really makes the song something special.
The album fades from electronica to hip hop numerous times, along with a few other genres. “Plastic Beach” i really a take on modern pop music, and how Damon Albarn thinks it should sound. The mixture of the two genres is done really well and it does mix in extremely well, which makes the album a pleasure and an ease to listen to.
There’s literally 5 or 6 absolutely brilliant songs on the album, a few of them due to the guest vocalists, that include Snoop Dogg and Lou Reed. I think that’s the strength of the album, while the songs are really well written the guest appearance put them on another level. Snoop Dogg is amazing on ‘Welcome To The World Of The Plastic Beach’ no wonder a company specialising in GPS’s got him to do the voice, his voice is hypnotising, literally. I challenge you to not like his vocals in the song.
I know this is a big call, but I think this is Damon Albarn’s best album that he’s been a part of. Yes, “Parklife” was more influential and “Demon Days” had more to say, but overall I think “Plastic Beach” is more impressive musically than anything he’s ever written.
If you are a fan then this album is an absolute must-own. If you’re not a fan, then give this a try, it may just surprise you…
Reviewer’s Pick: “Welcome To The World Of The Plastic Beach”
Stand-out Tracks: “Stylo”, “Superfast Jellyfish”, “Empire Ants”, “Some Kind Of Nature”, “Welcome To The World Of The Plastic Beach”