Five years on from the release of Demon Days, Murdoc Niccals and co. return with Plastic Beach. The band have taken up residence, recording on a secret floating island deep in the South Pacific, a Plastic Beach HQ, made up of the detritus, debris and washed up remnants of humanity. This Plastic Beach is the furthest point from any landmass on Earth; the most deserted spot on the planet.
The world’s biggest animated band, Gorillaz formed in 1998, and have since sold 12 million copies over two albums Gorillaz (2000) and Demon Days (2005). They have hit number 1 in more than a dozen countries and picked up awards including Grammys, Novellos, VMAs and EMAs.
“Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach” f/Snoop dogg and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – I’ve never heard Snoop Dogg so calm and fluid. He sits back in a lethargic beat while trying to bring a message of landfills and environmental issues. Snoop an environmentalist? You have to wonder if he got the memo.
“White Flag” f/Bashy, Kano and The Lebanese National Orchestra for Oriental Arabic Music – The beat is hot but the hip-hop is passe. Does Albarn even knows the difference?
“Rhinestone Eyes” – A great beat is lost on Albarn’s sweet voice. The beat tries to draw Albarn into a hook that never comes. The song goes nowhere. It’s a shame because its got mad potential.
“Stylo” f/Bobby Womack and Mos Def – Mos Def does what he can with what he is given.
“Superfast Jellyfish” f/Gruff Rhys and De La Soul – De La Soul? Seriously. When is the last time they’ve done anything? They don’t necessarily drop the ball–but its a good thing that Gruff Rhys (lead singer of Super Furry Animals) is along to save the song.
“Empire Ants” f/Little Dragon – Painfully slow. Albarn does find a way to suck you in. A great song to put on when going to bed and in need of sweet dreams.
“Glitter Freeze f/Mark E. Smith – A great electro track that belonged on the last Prodigy album.
“Some Kind of Nature” f/Lou Reed – Albarn obviously digs Lou Reed. I’m glad someone does because this is a waste.
“On Meloncholy Hill” – No Blur fan will be surprised to hear Albarn heading back to the ’80s and mining for gold. This could have been held for a future Blur release.
“Broken” – This sounds like it came from a William Orbit production. The music is fantastic and could have survived on its own without Albarn–in fact it may have been better without vocals.
“Sweepstakes” f/Mos Def and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – Usually Mos Def is on. Well the lights are out.
“Plastic Beach” f/Mick Jones and Paul Simonon – Getting the former Clash members together probably sounded great on paper–but where are they?
“To Binge” f/Little Dragon – Skip.
“Cloud of Unknowing” f/Bobby Womack and sinfonia ViVA – Skip this one too.
“Pirate Jet” – B-Side at best.
Damon Albarn had the world in the palm of his hands with the original Gorillaz album. At the time they sounded and seemed quite revolutionary. Now they are like watching Star Wars and then watching Avatar. The music hasn’t moved and Albarn seems to be quite content with a motley crew of near has-beens.