So, Gorillaz return with their third LP. After the pulsating self titled debut and the epic 'Demon Days', Damon Albarn and co really had a lot to live up to. The album was self produced and features guests from Mos Def, Lou Reed, Bobby Womack, Snoop Dogg, Gruff Rhys plus many others.
The album begins with an underwhelming orchestral piece, before dropping into the proper introduction 'Welcome to the Plastic Beach' featuring Snoop Dogg. Since he was all over 2001, Snoop hasn't really impressed us with any of his output, Drop It's Like It's Hot aside, in the last 9 years. This is the most relaxed and just plain chilled we've heard him in that time.
Out of all the guests on Plastic Beach, Bobby Womack is probably the most surprising. The elderly jazz pioneer apparently had never heard of Gorillaz, and only took the job due to pressure from his daughter.
He drags first single Stylo out of mediocrity with his inaudible vocals and is used again to full force on Cloud of Unknowing. I read that Damon Albarn just asked him to sing whatever he wanted for half an hour, then cuts were taken from that. The aura his voice creates is incredible, even though what's being said doesn't make any sense!
In a great advertisement for British rap, Bashy and Kano also feature toe to toe on the track White Flag. When you read that a song features two rappers, you expect separate verses, but these two go at it like a playful duet, swapping lines and finishing each others verses. The track's subject matter is the unoriginal idea of 'dissing' guns and violence, however the brilliantly childish accompanying music makes it a fantastic song.
The best two tracks on the album are 'Melancholy Hill' and 'Rhinstone Eyes'. These are two of the only three tracks without any guests, with just Damon Albarn at his crooning best.
Melancholy Hill is reminiscent of Yeah Yeah Yeah's Skeletons, with a light synth looped with a heartbeat-like calm drum loop carrying the song through the crescendos and verses. You can hear the emotion in Albarn's cracking voice, he really is a fantastic lead man.
Rhinestone Eyes is similar in construction, but is more upbeat. It is similar to some of the tracks on Demon Days in it's glitchy music and Albarn's auto tuned voice. The song plods along seemingly going no where before rising up in the climactic last minute and a half. It is a brilliant track.
Plastic Beach is a fantastic recording, with some great guests and fun tunes. AbandonSilence thoroughly recommends that you check it out, as a treat we will give you the first cut from the LP, Stylo.