Okay...so, for the people that didn't die in Memetoid mania, you may have caught the grand debut of Stereotoid, the amazing new feature brought about the Cblog world, orchestrated by Xzyliac. You may have noticed that a certain person, that person being myself, was supposed to have had a review of the long-awaited Gorillaz album "Plastic Beach" up there and it never really happened. That would be due to the fact that somebody got in a car accident via running into a power supply in our neighborhood, making us lose all cable services in the area for almost the entire weekend. That includes internet. Thanks to that shining example of human stupidity, I was not able to forward my review to Xzyliac, or even tell him (Yeah, mystery solved guys, Xzyliac's a GUY) what the hell had happened since, ya know, no internet.
However, I am glad that the crew trekked on without me and am pleased to see that Stereotoid's grand opening went very well, even despite all the behind-the-scenes worrying. Of course, there is one question that still remains- I have a review written. What do I do with it? Well, the simple answer would be to post it. So, without further ado, the 'lost' review of Plastic Beach. Because better late then never, correct?
Parlophone, Virgin Records
March 3, 2010
Trip-hop, Experimental, a little Electronica here and there
A bizarre love affair with the 80's brought into the modern era. With 100% more rappers.
The Gorillaz are, for lack of a better term, very hard to pin down. Their music can span anything from mainstream trip-hop for the masses, to upbeat dance tracks, to spoken word from Dennis Hopper (No, really
). For the most part though, despite the genre hopping that comes from the brainchild of Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett (And whichever artists they pull out of their phone book to put on the album this time), the quality has been consistently top-notch. This album, while having a couple sour spots here and there, is no exception.
First things first- they've really stepped it up when it comes to collaborations this time. With big names like Snoop Dogg, De La Soul, Lou Reed, and even Mick Jones and Paul Simonon attached to this album, you know that at the very least you'll see some star-studded performances present. Of course, that's not even half of the names attached to the album (It's a Gorillaz album, would you expect any less?), but they're definitely the A-list of the album's massive roll call.
The album begins with a vaguely dark, somber orchestral intro (Cleverly titled...wait for it...”Orchestral Intro”) before seguing perfectly into “Welcome To The World Of The Plastic Beach”, a track that Snoop Dogg pretty much makes his own, be that for better or for worse. It manages to both sound like a Snoop song and a Gorillaz song at the same time, which is no small feat. Next comes “White Flag”, which is your standard Gorillaz song, more or less- catchy, infectious beat with some biting verses, though it still retains the orchestral backings of the past two tracks underneath the electronic grooviness. Following that we have “Rhinestone Eyes”, which is purely Damon-only, and may be one of the strongest tracks on the album because of it. Next is the amazing “Stylo” which, if you haven't heard it by now you probably don't have internet and aren't even reading this anyways. The album continues to impress with “Superfast Jellyfish”, a track featuring the return of De La Soul which, if you've ever heard Feel Good Inc. (And who hasn't), you know that to be a good thing.
Around here we have the first real low point of the album, a track called “Empire Ants” which was just a bit too slow and plodding for my tastes. Thankfully, track 8 wakes everybody up again with “Glitter Freeze”, a fun track with a simple beat that'll be stuck in your head for days. Next we have the Lou Reed-led track “Some Kind Of Nature” which is surprisingly upbeat for what I'm accustomed to hearing from Lou Reed. Afterwards we have two more collab-free 'Gorillaz' tracks- “On Melancholy Hill”, which could best be described as the album's love song, and “Broken”, a track that, while not really bad, isn't necessarily amazing either, just...servicable.
Track 12, “Sweepstakes”, may be the most fun song on the whole album. Featuring Mos Def and the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, it starts out subdued, with a fluid backing beat and some excellent lyrical flow from Mos, though the track really shines once the drums kick in. Definitely my favorite track on the album. “Sweepstakes” may be a tough act to follow, but the album's title track, “Plastic Beach” does an admirable job. Featuring Mick Jones and Paul Simonon, it's probably the closest you'll ever come to hearing a new song from The Clash. Around this time the album pretty much runs out of steam, with tracks like “To Binge” and “Cloud Of Unknowing” being largely throwaway tracks in my opinion, though I will say that “Pirate Jet” is kinda catchy, if lacking in substance. The final track, “Pirate's Progress” is best described as an extended version of the intro track, ending the album off on the same foot it started, or at least initially. It starts off as dark and moody as it did at first, but picks up towards the middle and gradually gets happier before getting just a little bit too broadway-esque for it's own good.
In the long run, I'd definitely recommend this album to anyone who calls themselves a fan of the Gorillaz, or a fan of hip-hop in general. It may not be an amazing album, but the good outweighs the bad and then some.
Personal favorite tracks: Stylo
, Rhinestone Eyes
Summary for lazy people:
More pop-tinted trip-hop goodness from the Gorillaz is never a bad thing.