Thursday, May 09, 2013
Gorillaz -- Plastic Beach
10/10 sort of
Let me speak in non-absolutes so that I can never be wrong. If Demon Days was sort of a night album, and sort of a space album, its follow-up, Plastic Beach, is kind of a day album, kind of an ocean album, and kind of a discussion about consumerism and waste. Plastic Beach sometimes satires the wastefulness of using and throwing out so many things, yet also sometimes finds a strange serendipity in the results. The Plastic Beach, composed of waste and trash, sort of becomes a place of peace and rest. Thus, Plastic Beach somehow miraculously duplicates the transformatively positive feelings of Demon Days, even though it goes about doing so in different ways, kind of.
Musically, Plastic Beach sort of continues Gorillaz' genreless wanderings, as there is possibly no real way to describe this music in genre terms. There's some rapping sometimes, and some pop-singing sometimes, and some soul-singing, and some electronic stuff, and some more organic sounding stuff, I think. It just is, for the most part.
What must be said with certainty, though, probably, is that none of this would work without great songs. Plastic Beach pretty much features standout after standout, as Damon Albarn's guest-star selection skills kind of continue to shine. I don't know how Albarn pulled Bobby Womack out of retirement and a sinking lack of confidence, but Womack is the star of this album, maybe. The two tracks Womack sings on kind of anchor the album, his worn voice soaring high over Plastic Beach's musical seas. The first, "Stylo," features a video featuring probably the perfect guest star.
Womack also leads the stunning pen-ultimate track, "Cloud of Unknowing" which pretty much sums up the ultimate ends of human emotion and thought. I'm serious, I think.
I think Albarn also talked Womack into recording a solo album, The Bravest Man in the Universe, after boosting Womack's confidence with these songs. It's sort of awesome.
The best thing Plastic Beach has going for it, probably, is its undoubtedly human touches, perhaps proving a band composed of animated monkeys can do a better job of conveying emotion than some human ones. "Melancholy Hill" kind of touches on the classic sadness/happiness combination feeling that the French probably have a word for.
I think it took Gorillaz five years to follow-up Demon Days with this. If they can do it again with Plastic Beach's successor, I'll gladly wait another half a decade...I think...probably...sort of...kind of...how on Earth do you hipster writers talk this way all the time?
1. Orchestral Intro (featuring sinfonia ViVA) 1:09
2. Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach (featuring Snoop Dogg and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble) 3:35
3. White Flag (featuring Bashy, Kano and the Lebanese National Orchestra for Oriental Arabic Music) 3:42
4. Rhinestone Eyes 3:19
5. Stylo (featuring Bobby Womack and Mos Def) 4:29
6. Superfast Jellyfish (featuring De La Soul and Gruff Rhys) 2:54
7. Empire Ants (featuring Little Dragon) 4:43
8. Glitter Freeze (featuring Mark E. Smith) 4:02
9. Some Kind of Nature (featuring Lou Reed) 2:59
10. On Melancholy Hill 3:53
11. Broken 3:16
12. Sweepstakes (featuring Mos Def and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble) 5:19
13. Plastic Beach (featuring Mick Jones and Paul Simonon) 3:46
14. To Binge (featuring Little Dragon) 3:55
15. Cloud of Unknowing (featuring Bobby Womack and sinfonia ViVA) 3:05
16. Pirate Jet (featuring The Purple, the People, the Plastic Eating People) 2:32