The world’s biggest animated musical group is back after three long years. Gorillaz’s new album Plastic Beach hit the stores this month, and it is good. Great. Beautiful. Right now, and in the future. Damon Albarn, the mastermind behind the virtual four piece, comes to us as producer adding a sound to the music previously unheard. The album feels like an idea, a thought musicalized. Hip-hop, pop, rock, world music, and more come together forgetting their differences and creating a new experience, yet one that feels familiar. Unlike their previous works, and despite the tracks that make you crave the dance floor, an air of sadness lingers over the span of the album.
Big names are featured in a multitude of songs. From Lou Reed in “Some Kind of Nature” to Snoop Dogg and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble in “Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach,” the songs are unique and different, yet successfully strung together by Albarn’s production. The few tracks where Albarn is the only vocalist are a throwback to the days where Gorillaz was more a band, and less the face of Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett’s musical project.
The drawback to this concept album is one that’s easy to notice. Songs featuring such a vast array of different musicians, produced with thoughts about the song at hand makes the album jump around at times. It’s missing the cohesiveness we expect from studio releases. It’s not the worst of problems, but it’s one that emphasizes the dragged out extinction of the album as an art piece in and of itself. Playlists on shuffle, buying single tracks on iTunes, “Dude, you gotta listen to this track!”
Dude, you gotta listen to this album.
Feature Photo by gigijin