To me, Gorillaz have aways been a musical spectacle. A band that were truly unique in their creation and sound; whilst maintaining a thorough level of pop sensibility throughout. In this, their third album, they once again prove why this creation by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett was so genius. The façade of the cartoon band allows for unprecedented collaborations and rare hybrids of sounds that are so unique in nature, yet so identifiable as the work of Gorillaz. In this album, the use of guest appearances is taken to new levels, with most tracks boasting big names. Initially this led to a worry of a disperse sound, a lack of cohesion between the tracks; but fortunately this has been avoided.
After an orchestral intro, Snoop Dogg welcomes us to Plastic Beach, which itself is an interesting title. Something natural made artificially? Much like the nature of this here band wouldn’t you say?
Anyway, as the album continues, we hear Kano and Bashy sparring perfectly over the majestic sounds of an Arabic orchestra on ‘White Flag’, and fantastic appearances by De La Soul and Gruff Rhys on the catchy ‘Superfast Jellyfish’. The most successful features though are made by Swedish electro band Little Dragon on ‘To Binge’ and ‘Empire Ants’; the second half of the latter being some of the best Gorillaz work for some time. Both Mos Def and Bobby Womack’s individual appearances on ‘Sweepstakes’ and ‘Cloud Of Unknowing’ respectively are also successful, whilst their appearance on previous track of the week, ‘Stylo’ make it one of the most successful songs on the album. Although features are aplenty, Albarn still excels on his own on both ‘Rhinestone Eyes’ and ‘On Melancholy Hill’, where his childlike and innocent vocals are at their best.
Track by track, this album works brilliantly, with most songs successfully employing guest stars. Most impressive, however, is how cohesively the album plays, rolling from song to song; each being identifiable as trademark Gorillaz.