Music Review: Gorillaz Plastic Beach

posted by dpm on 03/26/2010

I’m sorry, the niche for animated electronica has been filled—please try again next century. Thank you

            When the project known as Gorillaz slyly crept onto the scene back in ’89, no one was expecting eventual world domination. Now, some 21 years, and 3 albums later, Damon Albarn (of Blur) and Jamie Hewlett (the creator of “Tank Girl”) have released a concept album that’s straight fire. And what’s most curious about this outfit is their choice to continually represent themselves with four imaginary characters—2D, Murdoc, Noodle, and Russel. A little whack, but damn if these guys aren’t some of the ripest down-tempo hip-hop sound sculptors out there! 
            The concept of Plastic Beach is simple: Create music fit for the imaginary landscapes found deep within our puny brains, and to skillfully put together songs that have mass appeal. So it’s no wonder that a musical progression of this range should be the result of a collective genius of a diverse fusion of guest vocals, musicians, and genres. Snoop Dogg, Mos Def, Mick Jones, and De La Soul are just some of the artists taking up residence on this hurtling orb of sound. And I’ve gotta say, the vast and sinister five-star flow on this album bewildered my mind, carrying me back to a headspace I haven’t experienced since my days of pulling plastic and busting calluses at the Philly Rock Gym. Standout songs like “Stylo”; the tranquil discotheque anthem, “Empire Ants”; the Blur-esque “On Melancholy Hill”, and the plaintive “Broken” all speak to the brilliance of Albarn and Hewlett, and the comprehensive melodies their capable of producing.   
            Cameo’s from the great lyricist Lou Reed (of Velvet Underground fame), and the smooth-talkin’ Bobby Womack complete Plastic Beach, making it a very listenable juxtaposition, ripe with poetic Hip-Hop muscle and smart Brit-pop style. This album comes highly recommended for whatever your pursuit is in the great out-of-doors, be it boulder wrangling, going bolt-to-bolt on your uber proj, or whipping huge on micronuts high off the Valley floor. Don’t forget to support our friends over there at Amazon, and download it for a measly pittance of $7.99—your dirtbag wallet can afford that, right?                        
- Chris Duca