Gorillaz – Plastic Beach

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Over the last few years, Damon Albarn has dabbled in world music, composed an opera, reunited Blur and conjured up this, the third Gorillaz album, so we imagine that he must have afforded himself a wry smile when Robbie Williams collected his Lifetime Achievement award at this year’s Brits. Has Robbie really done more for the face of British music than Damon? Is Angels really superior to The Universal? Perhaps though the key thing is that Albarn is still seen as having so much to give, whereas Robbie is thought of as having his best days behind him. That Mr Albarn is obscenely talented is well acknowledged in the industry and with this latest slab of monkey business from his animated band, Murdoc and co have done the Essex boy proud, cranking out some corking tunes with a little help from their bunch of talented friends…

Collaborators include Lou Reed, De La Soul, Snoop Dogg, Mark E Smith, Mos Def, Little Dragon and Kano, proving Albarn’s amazing persuasive powers. So Albarn’s is not the only starring voice on this effort – instead, he steps back and lets others chip in. Lou Reed’s Some Kind Of Nature is a highlight, as is first single Stylo, which puts the spotlight on Bobby Womack and Mos Def. Snoop Dogg lends his majestic tones to Welcome To The World of Plastic Beach and getting De La Soul to contribute to Superfast Jellyfish is a masterstroke. In a flash, Albarn has turned Gorillaz into a more alternative Massive Attack with mash-up overload.

This is an album that mixes the old and the new, combining electro, rock, hip-hop, world and even its far share of sweeping strings to the mix. It’s upbeat, emotional, touching and sensational. We also loved the collaboration with Little Dragon on To Binge, Albarn and Nagano’s voices merging magically with echoes of Blur’s later, tender moments. When Murdoc does step to the fore on sunshine tracks like On Melancholy Hill it’s evocative of One Eskimo, last year’s animated near-success story, also penned by the same crayons that dreamt up Murdoc and co. Albarn always was and proves he still is lightyears ahead of the rest. Pure genius.

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