The man of many sounds sets his sights on America

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By Corinne Love

By Corinne Love

Damon Albarn is partly responsible for Brit-pop’s sneaky attack onto American shores in the 90s.

Albarn is also responsible for making very catchy pop songs that reflect the ordinary life.

Songs about park life, about boys who look like girls who act like boys, and beetle bums.

Whether or not critics and listeners want to admit it, Albarn has infiltrated their pop music psyches.

Navigating through the waters of Blur’s easy pop melodies and the Gorillaz’ hip hop electronica, Albarn’s voice is the thread that holds those projects all together.

The jack of all trades musician and vocalist teams up with The Clash bassist Paul Simonon; Simon Tong (The Verve) on guitar, afro beat extraordinaire Tony Allen, and producer Danger Mouse.

The group has decided to stay nameless. “The Good, the Bad, and the Queen” only refers to the album.

It’s more a collection of talented musicians as opposed to the weighty “super group.”

Super groups often outshine themselves.

Hopefully that is not the case with this project.

“…the Queen” shapes a darkly whimsical England, where time may have lapsed, but the aftershock of contemporary social issues come loud and clear.

That being said, the project is not ideal for those wishing to skip a song here and there.

Its consistency of being moody, hypnotic and psychedelic can come across as depressing.

Yet, depressing as it may sound, “…the Queen” is likely to be a listener’s favorite for sleepless nights or ambience for cram sessions.

“Kingdom of Doom” recalls an abstract collage of sounds; nothing really stands out – it just kind of meshes together quite nicely.

The tracks on the album are like sleeper tracks, listeners won’t really appreciate how good they are until the album wears on them.

Much like a sleeper film, the tracks come out of nowhere with melancholy brilliance.

Listening to “…the Queen,” a visual of England, foggy and slow comes to mind.

Albarn’s voice just cruises on with the melodies.

This album is heavy on the melody and mood too; “Herculean” is a cinematic tour de force of harps, strings, and weary production.

“Eighties Life” features an up-tempo swagger that comes the closest to single territory.

While the song does not carry the moody weight of most of the material, it still has elements of a bleak consciousness.

Albarn’s quirky English accent was prevalent in Blur and the Gorillaz, but with this project, his quirkiness takes a backseat to mellow singing and low key notes.

The lyrical content avoids the pitfall of material that speaks to a time specific generation.

The majority of the album reflects a diaspora of modern times and events.

“…the Queen” still reflects that Albarn can successfully venture into any genre.

With the success of Albarn’s other projects, time will tell if “…the Queen” is commercially received with welcoming arms.

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