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Plastic Beach Review

7 Mar

After five years wait since Demon Days, British four piece virtual band, the Gorillaz, has brought us a third album, Plastic Beach. Formed in 1998 by Blur’s Damon Alburn and co-creator of the Tank Girl comic book series, Jamie Hewlett, we’ve grown to love the Gorillaz unique blend of hip-hop, synth, dub and electronica.

Plastic Beach is a little softer and more experimental than what we heard previously on Demon Days, also, not nearly as mainstream. Featuring two orchestral tracks and collaborations with Snoop Dogg, Mos Def, De La Soul, the Lebanese Orchestra, Little Dragon, Lou Reed, Kano and more, this album is not as pop-friendly as you think, with no stand out top 20 style hit. The album is much more complex, but in being so, wins our respect.

The album opens with Broken, setting a chill-out tone for the rest to follow. Featuring dreamy vocals and psychedelic melodies, it seems a nice track to begin with before going into Melancholy Hill, which follows a similar tone only a little more upbeat Pirate Jet is the first highlight track with more of a fun sound. It has a catchy organ-synth riff and very Blur-sounding vocals.

Sweepstakes throws the album out a bit, with a sound akin to that of trip-hop. It seems a little out of place amongst all the dreamy bass-lines and melodic vocals, but is a still a good track. A couple of collaborations with Little Dragon, bring an 80s inspired romantic sound to the album, with The Binge and Empire Ants.

The first half of the album shares a similar sound, with a definite change not occurring until Glitter Freeze. Another stand out track in the the album, it features a lot more electronica and minimal vocals. Some Kind Of Nature is another good track, as it allows Lou Reed to bring more of a rhythm and blues feel to the album. It becomes quite a fun and refreshing listen in the album, particularly as you listen to it more and more. Rhinestone Eyes is also a highlight, with a great electronic-synth backing beat and catchy sound.

Stylo, featuring Mos Def and Bobby Womack, is a great choice for the single. It’s may not be completely pop-friendly, but it’s extremely catchy and well suited for a trendy nu-disco inspired cocktail bar, with it’s dark undertones and buzzy synth. It also has an amazing videoclip, but this is well expected from the Gorillaz.

Superfast Jellyfish with De La Soul is also a lot of fun. With a heavy bass-line, heavy rap and an upbeat childish chorus, you can’t go wrong. The album then leads into a track with the one and only Snoop Doog, Welcome To The World Of Plastic Beach. I wouldn’t call this a highlight track, but it is enjoyable to listen to, and has a great synth backing beat.

The album closes with perhaps the best track, that will definitely never be released. White Flag is a collaboration with Kano, Bashy and The Lebanese National Orchestra for Oriental Arabic Music. Beginning with the sound of wind pipes and winding into catchy, upbeat violin before it drops into rap this is comes as a cute, refreshing and very effective blend. The track becomes more electronic as it approaches the middle but end similarly to the start, with pipes, violin and drums played in a beautifully constructed manner that reminds you of a cross between an Arabic dance and a medieval folk festival. This is hands down the most innovative and stand out track of Plastic Beach.

All in all, the album is very 80s synth-inspired and well suited for the nu-disco scene. It comes as a sophisticated blend of avante-garde, electronica, psychedellica, dub, trip-hop, hip-hop and a little something extra on the top. It’s one downfall is that the first half of the album is very monotonous with little variation from track to track, although individually each of the tracks are brilliant in their own right. It does however, keep a fresh sound throughout the album via it’s many collaborations and unique sound, and at 16 tracks long it is quite generous (no fillers!)

Whilst this isn’t an album of the year type, it’s still well worth the money you would pay for it.

8/10

Gorillaz feat. Mos Def & Bobby Womack- Stylo**highly recommended

Gorillaz feat. Little Dragon – Empire Ants**highly recommended

Gorillaz feat. De La Soul & Gruff Rhys – Superfast Jellyfish

Gorillaz feat. Mos Def & Hypnotic Bass – Sweepstakes

Bonus

Gorillaz – Rhinestone Eyes (Extended Mix) **highly recommended

Gorillaz feat. Mos Def & Womach – Stylo (Yuksek Remix) **highly recommended

Gorillaz feat. Mos Def & Womach – Stylo (Louis La Roche Remix) **highly recommended

Gorillaz feat. Mos Def & Womach – Stylo (Labrinth SNES Remix)

Gorillaz feat. Mos Def & Womach – Stylo (DJ Kofi Remix)

Gorillaz feat. Mos Def & Womach – Stylo (Tenkah Remix)

Gorillaz feat. Mos Def & Womach – Stylo (Alex Metric Remix) **highly recommended

17 Feb

^ Polaroid scarves by French designer Phillipe Roucou.

http://www.philliperoucou.com

Sean Roman – Lick

Gorillaz – Stylo (Yuksek Remix) *highly recommended

Robyn ft. Diplo – No Hassle

Database vs French Horn Rebellion – Beaches (The Twelves Remix) *highly recommended