Hello friends! I hope you’re all well and enjoying lots of new music! Today’s treat is “Plastic Beach” by the “Gorillaz”.
But we all like a good challenge don’t we?! Well, I do.
So lets roll back a little. For those that don’t know, the Gorillaz is the brain child of Damon Alban and Jamie Hewlett – Damon doing the music stuff and Jamie doing the artwork. The original band were based around four cartoon characters called 2D, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle and Russel Hobbs and they are essentially a virtual band.
The concept came about whilst Damon and Jamie were watching MTV. They thought it had no substance and was too samey so they decided to create a bunch of strange cartoon characters that formed the Gorillaz.
Being this strange bunch of cartoon characters lead to the ‘band’ being more than the music and each of these crazy fictitious creatures were able to develop their own, and very unique, characters as depicted in their music videos, booklets and even ‘one-off’ animated music show appearances or adverts.
Plastic Beach is their third album and to me, this band has always more of a creative experiment from Damon, allowing him and Jamie to experiment with a band not restricted by a physical form and allowing them to exist in a slightly different and creative world and feeding that back into the music.
So here we are at Plastic Beach. I’ve taken my time at reviewing this album and I must have been listening to it for a good 2 or 3 months now. Initially I didn’t like it. It’s got lots of famous guest stars on it from Snoop Dogg through to Lou Reed but I found it all a bit too experimental for me. It also didn’t help that I bought 3 albums in one go and one of them was Acolyte (so I wasn’t really giving it all my attention). But something about it made me keep coming back.
If I had written the review in that week I would have probably said it was a bit pants and you’d get similar enjoyment from sticking a big pan on your head and hitting it with a wooden spoon. The thing is thought, afterlistening to it for a few months, I think it’s really quite clever.
Now, we all know about Damon’s environmental credentials and that fact that he is a little bit of a tree-hugging-hippy and there should be no surprise from the albums name that the lyrics are entirely about consumerism and environmental issues. The songs range from a rap about microwave meals (it’s actually quite amusing that one), through to styrofoam clogging up our beaches. It don’t really have a problem with that, if you think about it, about 99% of music is someone moaning about their relationships so in some ways, it’s quite refreshing.
That’s obviously not the clever bit. Anyone could make tunes about picking up litter and not buying hot pockets. The clever bit is the music. It’s full of hooks. You find yourself subconsciously looking forward to various bits of each track – and not wishing it way, just knowing there is something around the corner. It seems that whilst Damon isn’t singing, he’s spending a lot of time and dedication on the actual tunes and I think it works.
I may be on my own on this one but after a while, I find Damon’s voice a little bit grating. He’s a bit dreary. Luckily, a lot of the tracks he’s just a backing singer or being disguised by a vocalizer, so you don’t have to deal with it for the whole album and then there are the range of artists which keeps things interesting. It’s a very generous 16 tracks and I think there are 14 different guest singers!
As per the previous Gorillaz albums, the slightly mad musical feel is still here. The last track “Private Jet” is a perfect example. Almost jolly but with a very sinister keyboard backing.
It’s not an instant winner this. You need to really persevere with – almost to get used to it. It’s a challenge! 🙂 But you will grow to like it and it is a good addition to anyone’s music collection.
Add in the extras that you get from Gorillaz such as their beautiful cartoon inserts (Deluxe version only but available as a PDF from their website at www.gorillaz.com) and, indeed the whole experience you can get from their videos, games and island tour (again from their website), and I think credit is due.
So, on my out of 4 ‘G’ rating, I am going to give this 3. But be warned, it starts at a 1 and sloooooooowly grows!