Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Electric is the Love

2d, Murdoc, Russel, and Noodle have returned in time to provide the perfect soundtrack for Spring break (and quite possibly for the Summer and all of 2010 as well) with the new Gorillaz album, Plastic Beach. Those used to the virtual-band's now classic preceding albums, a self-titled debut album and Demon Days, will be surprised with the diverse direction that this already experimental art/music project has taken in their 3rd release.

Now, for those not up on their lore, the Gorillaz is basically composed of both musician Damon Albarn, front man of popular British super-group Blur, and comic book artist Jamie Hewlett, co-creator of the comic Tank Girl. Albarn makes the music, Hewlett designs the virtual band (pictured above) along with their music videos, and together these aspects become quite inseparable.

Albarn has noticeably matured from his more poppy Blur days with his work on the Gorillaz; once seen as simply a pop-musician, and now being taken seriously as a music artist. The effects of this are seen most clearly in Plastic Beach, the compositions more rich and complex than ever before. Admittedly, some of the inherent charm of the Gorillaz seems to have been lost in this transition, though this is the most minor of complaints (if a complaint at all). This charm was found in how the Gorillaz had somehow managed to be a progressive experimental project, while at the same time making the top 10 mainstream music charts; it's great to be able to play their music around any crowd and not be likely to find any opposition. Plastic Beach does not seem to have any of this quality, even in their singles. At least not as much as classic hits such as "Feel Good Inc.", "19-2000" and "Clint Eastwood" had. I could certainly be proven wrong in this though.

Not only has their music style been somewhat altered, but the art style provided by Hewlett has undergone some changes too. We still have the same four band members as always, and they look more or less the same in terms of features, but the traditional 2-dimensional hand-drawn animation has been dumped in favor for a 3d-CGI look, and thankfully this is not a bad thing. I recommend a visit to Youtube to watch the first single, "Stylo" to see for yourself (includes an awesome cameo by Bruce Willis).

Like Demon Days, Plastic Beach is without a bad track. From songs with kickin' beats begging to be sampled by DJs, such as "White Flag" which mixes electronic music with UK Grime, to breathtakingly beautiful pseudo-ballads including two songs, "Empire Ants" and "To Binge, which both feature Swedish-Japanese electronic band "Little Dragon" (who, by the way, are playing tonight for free at Club Downunder, which I'll definitely be attending), Plastic Beach delivers at every angle. Albarn found what seems like the perfect use for each of the plethora of artists (such as Snoop Dogg, De La Soul, Mos Def, and Bobby Womack) contributing to the album, as well as his own dry, gravelly vocals on what is (if you couldn't tell from the album name) a largely environmentally themed album that doesn't come off pretentiously heavy-handed, which is quite refreshing nowadays. I give it a 5/5 (not too common for me), pick it up now!

Electric is the Love

1 comment:

Ramage, what? said...

I'm really digging some of the tracks on this album, but others i can barely stand to listen to. Added to the iPod reagrdless