Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
by Frederick Churchville, published June 24th 2010
Gorillaz co-creator Damon Albarn has gone and done it again with his newest creation Plastic Beach, his fist self-produced album that partners up both hip-hop legends such as Mos Def and rock icons like Lou Reed with the classic cartoon crew. The result is an album that transcends the restrictions of musical genres and styles and becomes something entirely of its own.
The album opens up with a classic melodic orchestral compilation, easing you into the album. The listener is then thrown into with one of the album’s most recognizable celebrity cameos: Snoop Doggy Dogg, who with his signature laid back style welcomes you ‘to the World of the Plastic Beach’ to the accompaniment of wailing synthesizer sounds and the psychedelic vocals of Gorillaz cartoon singer 2D (sung by Albarn).
In addition to Snoop Dogg, there are other more-than-notable appearances on the album that are recognizable here in the states: indie hip-hop icon Mos Def on ‘Stylo’ and ‘Sweepstakes,’ the famous and funky De La Soul on ‘Superfast Jellyfish,’ and the soothing, leathery vocals of Lou Reed on ‘Some Kind of Nature.’
Albarn has hailed this as the Gorillaz most pop-ish album up until now, but as is typically the case with this artist, there is more underneath. While one will be hard pressed to find one of those stand-alone tracks such as ‘Feel Good, Inc.’ and ‘Clint Eastwood,’ the style of these tracks is still present in songs such as ‘Superfast Jellyfish’ and ‘Rhinestone Eyes’. Besides, the album seems to work better when listened to collectively, which is probably the way Albarn intended.
The variety in this album is astounding, each song carrying its own take on classic pop sounds placed atop typical Gorillaz-style synthesized sounds and pumping bass tracks, some fast and energetic like ‘Sweepstakes’ and ‘Stylo’, others sincerely catchy and beautiful like ‘Empire Ants’ and ‘On Melancholy Hill.’
Overall, Plastic Beach is definitely Albarn’s most cleanly produced album yet. And while the sound of crazed synthesizers and the heavy mash up of hip-hop and techno beats may not be for everyone, it is sure to leave Gorillaz fans satisfied with its inspired variety and original sound.
By the way, did I mention that Bruce Willis is in the music video for ‘Stylo?’
Recommended tracks: Stylo, Superfast Jellyfish, Some Kind of Nature, On Melancholy Hill