Monday, March 22, 2010

Album Review: Plastic Beach by Gorillaz

Since I've been getting back into the contemporary music scene, I thought it would be a good idea to share with you the albums/artists that I'm digging at any given moment. My first review is of Plastic Beach, the latest release by the English "virtual band" Gorillaz.

Although I didn’t know much about Gorillaz outside of their performance with Madonna during the 2006 Grammys, I was intrigued to hear Plastic Beach. From the opening track (“Orchestral Intro”), I was sucked in by the album’s musical palette of sounds that are space-age, soothing, and exotic.

What struck me first about Plastic Beach is that although the album is eclectic, it flows. Even when there are stylistic changes within a song, it works. A prime example is “White Flag”, which opens with an Arabian flavor that will have the ladies belly dancing (resistance is futile). About a minute into it, guest rappers Bashy and Kano enter the mix and trade off rhymes that'll make you wanna put on a baseball cap, turn it to the back and bob your head to the beat. It then returns to the Arabian feel that allows the ladies to go back into Shakira mode. “White Flag” concludes with a string section that has a Bondian feel which fits perfectly. No, not that Bondthis Bond.

Plastic Beach also impressed me with the musical diversity of its guest roster. In addition to the aforementioned Bashy and Kano, the album also features Snoop Dogg (“Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach”), soul poet Bobby Womack (“Stylo” and “Cloud of Unknowing”), protopunk pioneer Lou Reed (“Some Kind of Nature”), and Swedish electronic band Little Dragon (“Empire Ants” and “To Binge”) among others. Not to be outdone, Gorillaz co-creator/lead vocalist Damon Albarn makes his presence felt on songs such as “Rhinestone Eyes”, “Broken”, and the title track.

The best part about Plastic Beach is that it can be listened to from beginning to end. It plays like a soundtrack to a Ralph Bakshi film that hasn’t been made. Another added bonus… Plastic Beach sounds awesome in my car’s CD player!

My grade for Plastic Beach: A

Below is a mix of some tracks from Plastic Beach:


BeckEye said...

Today is Damon's birthday! Still brilliant and beautiful after all these years.

So glad you gave this an A. I was even surprised by how much I liked the entire album. The other two have some really good songs on them, but there are a handful that I don't care for. Several of the songs that ended up on D-Sides would have been better on Demon Days, but oh well.

Malcolm said...

BeckEye: This album has really blown me away. I'll be surprised if it doesn't do well at the next Grammys. I've heard people say that "Plastic Beach" is the Gorillaz' most complete album. On the other hand, a co-worker of mine prefers their earlier work. Oh well.

Although I was aware of Blur, I didn't pay much attention to the whole Brit Pop explosion of the early to mid 90s (outside of the occasional Oasis song). After listening to Plastic Beach, I am going to look into Blur because I really like Damon's voice. A track that is becoming one of my favorites is "Broken".

BeckEye said...

I will suggest a Blur song to start you off with: "On Your Own." I'll bet you $10 that you like it. (Note that we didn't shake on this, so it's not a binding contract.) In fact, watch the video and die laughing as Damon tries to unsuccessfully breakdance at the end. I love how all the other band members kind of look embarrassed by him during the whole thing, as if he'd just morphed into Vanilla Ice in front of their eyes.

Oh, and then, yeah...check out everything else. Blur is amazing.

Stagg said...

I like your music reviews!!


Malcolm said...

BeckEye: Thanks for the Blur suggestions. Your description of Damon trying to breakdance reminds me of Bill Murray's comical attempt at it during the end of the video for "Ghostbusters".

Stagg: Thanks! Although it's sometimes hard to put my reviews into words, I enjoy writing them.

Khen said...

good music dude!

Malcolm said...

Khen: You are so right. Thanks for visiting!

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