Wednesday 10 March 2010

Gorillaz On A Plastic Beach Not Suprising Enough

When Damon Albarn releases the product of one of his projects I'm always thrilled to get my hands on it. He has proven to be a very creative musician and after the Blur era he came up with a few interesting ones. His Gorillaz project has now come up with their fourth album.

Gorillaz - Plastic Beach (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)

And Gorillaz sure are different: a band formed by cartoon characters that offer a blend of brit pop and hip hop and everything in between. It started out for Albarn by wanting to do something completely different as a reaction on the lack of substance on MTV at that time. But it seems it has grown past that and into something bigger.

After delivering some very nice and inspiring albums here's 'Plastic Beach'. If you would have never heard of Gorillaz the combination of that album title, band name and cover art is enough to raise some interest. Albarn continues on his hip hop and pop blend but adds a little soul and synths to it as well. This results in some nice tracks and adds to the overall mellow feel of the record. He has some pretty big names lined up to help him with it: Snoop Dogg('Welcome To The World Of The Plastic Beach'), Mos Def and Bobby Womack ('Stylo' a.o.), Lou Reed ('Some Kind Of Nature') and Super Furry Animals' Gruff Rhys and De La Soul ('Superfast Jellyfish') to name a few.

Despite these additions the record is kind of what you'd expect after the previous ones. Although that sure isn't a bad thing there aren't any real suprises on it which is slightly disappointing. On the other hand it is a decent album and still is very enjoyable to listen to. Maybe he has raised the expectations too high by his work in the past.

He sure is trying to come up with something new like in 'White Flag' that has a crazy blend of middle eastern strings and hip hop. Or in 'Superfast Jellyfish' that jumps between Rhys' signature vocals and De La Soul's hip hop. Other tracks like 'Glitter Freeze', 'On Melancholy Hill' and 'Pretty Jet' seem to be inspired by Kraftwerk's 80s electronics and are pretty danceable but nothing's really sticking out. Other tunes are leaning more towards brit pop especially when Albarn is taking on the vocals himself ('Broken') offering even more variation to the album. But maybe one of the best tracks is the one with Bobby Womack 'Cloud of Unknowing' that sounds gloomy and threatening.

Even with all of this variation Albarn seems to stay within the borders that he drew himself and where I would like him to cross those. Like in the smashing first video of the album 'Stylo' where the cartoon characters enter the real world chased by Bruce Willis I would have loved to hear him exploring new dimensions.

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