Gorrillaz Plastic Beach Album Review
Plastic Beach: An album has been on the tip of people’s tongues for months. Little by little news of the many bands collaborating with the animated musicians the Gorillaz, have been leaking out: The Horrors, Snoop Dogg, Kano, Lou Reed, Mos Def… The list of diverse and intriguing bands goes on. Speculation has been building to eye watering heights and finally it’s here….
And my God Noodle, 2D, Russel and Murdoc Niccals have not let us down.
From its’ opening Orchestral Intro the listener is let into a cartoon world with all its’ character and obscurities. “Welcome to the world of the plastic beach” swoons Snoop Dogg’s smooth voice, opening the gates into an album which is not merely a good listen but a journey into the Gorillaz developments over the last five years since the release of Demon Days. No individual member’s past conquests have been left behind them. They have stored what they have done between albums and forged them together, but this record is no Frankenstein’s monster.
The influence of Hewlett and Albam’s work on the opera, Monkey: Journey to the West chimes through the album, with tinkling oriental tasters throughout the record thrown like a handful of stars at the creation of the earth. The amalgamation of hip hop vocals and dainty Chinese instruments is one which on the surface seems hard to stomach. However, Gorillaz have triumphed at combining these contrasting types of music. Track White Flag especially showcases this, featuring Kano alongside the Lebanese National Orchestra for Oriental Arabic music and creating one of the highlights of the album.
This album is perfectly in tune for the summer and transports the listener into the oddball world of the Gorillaz and an incredibly visual record. The layers of sound make the colours and images of Plastic Beach vivid and wild. It is an unexplored land filled with heavenly brass and exotic instruments rarely used by popular artists. The listener is invited in and taken on a journey: Lazy and bluesy at the start, featuring slow hip hop vocals. However, just as the listener has settled they are thrown into a different facet of the record, a new town in Plastic Beach, a more dystopian town. Glitter Freeze featuring Mark E. Smith sends a distorted hum of synth in waves towards the listener. A high pitched pip of morse code beeps, hops along a different layer of the song while a deep commanding voice more recites lyrics than raps or sings them, showing how Plastic Beach is not always a chilled and relaxed place. The Gorillaz show themselves to not be bound to an album full of feel good tunes.
The climax is reaches around track 8, Glitter Freeze and 9, Some kind of Nature. After that Plastic Beach leads into its diminuendo, softening out towards the end of the journey. Broken is a particularly beautiful track which features sparkling synth, holding the listener up in space with no sense gravity after the fast paced preceding tracks. The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble used on this album is beautifully featured towards the end. I have barely a bad word to say about this album however, it could be said that it is possibly too long. By the time track eight has kicked in the listener feels ready for a new edge. However, who is to say that if a track was taken out this album would be any better. This album is so concisely constructed that removing a track may actually remove a saga of the listeners’ journey and a vital component of the album.
Altogether this album completely makes sense. Single, Stylo, although not as catchy as previous singles such as Feel Good Inc, when it is put with the rest of the album it becomes part of something much bigger. This record should be listened to throughout to a first time listener and in the correct order or else you might find yourself disorientated. Ending track Pirate Jet finishes on a cheeky note. It has been mentioned that this song is a misplaced track due to its faster beat after the album has seemingly closed down. However, I feel that that addition of this song hints at further projects and is evidence that the Gorillaz have more to show us yet. It is the final farewell of the characters of Plastic Beach…Until next time.
- Millie Corbould
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