But, tomorrow (Tuesday) two highly anticipated and somewhat similar albums are released. One of them is an album I've been dreaming would appear for the past five years or so, and the audio (and visual) gods have finally blessed us. That fact, along with a couple requests that I review said albums, have prompted me to officially "POST" my obviously high-esteemed opinions once again. So, since time is scarce, I shall get to it.
First lets get to the (wordy) meat first shall we? (I'll get to the other one later) Drumroll...
Its been a few years since I've been this excited for any album. I am still amazed at how Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett have managed to create such a brilliant audio-visual experience. Gorillaz is the perfect art-as-entertainment entity. Last album Demon Days is one of my favorites ever (#5 in my fav's of the 00's) and it was unclear until recently if a third album would even see the light of day. I mean, its just a goofy side project right? Well, in a decade of nothing but brilliant side projects, Mr. Albarn has proved to be one of modern music's most innovative renaissance men. I was wetting myself with anticipation seeing all the juicy video snippits they've been teasing us with...but is it actually any good??
Thankfully, Plastic Beach is flat out fabulous. I was half expecting it to be a let down. Not as much musically, but more so visually. I had read that Jamie Hewlett was "bored" of drawing these characters and worried he wouldn't get into it, but he must have found the right inspiration, because the visuals are just as astounding as the music (check this.) I think after completing the Monkey: Journey to the West project, it really invigorated them both with new ideas creatively. In fact, it is pretty obvious to see the influence of that project to both aspects of Gorillaz.
While it lacks an instant radio hit like "Clint Eastwood" or "Feel Good, Inc.," it's full of great, smart pop tracks. What I appreciate about the album is it, like Demons Days, is a cohesive unit. The tracks flow from one to the next seamlessly, which is always refreshing in today's playlist world. Despite the abundance of glory, I find myself having a hard time choosing a favorite song. Its almost completely void of the darker reggae/dub undertones of the two previous albums, but instead focuses on shinier, electro-pop nuggets (much like the Monkey project in ways). But, the collaborative hip-hop/rock/dance genre mash we've come to expect is as epic and gloriously over-the-top as ever.
It is, of course, a concept album. But, don't be afraid of that. Its not tree-hugger propaganda. They have made sure that the "message" doesn't get in the way of the form, but rather sets up a foundation to build outrageous tunes like "Superfast Jellyfish," a "jingle" for a futuristic frozen breakfast product. Damon also gets pretty intimate and personal on the 80's sounding dance balladry of tracks like "On Melancholy Hill" and "To Binge." The album has an overall upbeat mood and is the perfect soundtrack to chase winter right outta town. Finally.
So, in summary, this is already a high contender for one of the best albums of the year, in my opinion. If you appreciate what Mr. Albarn and Mr. Hewlett have been doing the last decade, it should fit your fancy. Its not quite as epic as Demon Days to me, but then again I tried to make sure I didn't expect it to be. Still, its a different enough creature that I'm sure there will be those that love it even more. Anyways, I've rambled on enough. If I had to give it an official "rating," I'd give it 9/10. But....whatever.
P.S. - I do suggest getting the special edition; suh-weet pictures, bonus online content, and a "Making Of" DVD which is pretty fun to watch.