Gorillaz new plastic world

In a time where in the flesh musicians seem like cartoons, it’s nice to find solace in actual cartoons that are musicians.

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By Corinne Love / Senior Staff Assistant

By Corinne Love / Senior Staff Assistant

In a time where in the flesh musicians seem like cartoons, it’s nice to find solace in actual cartoons that are musicians.

On the Gorillaz third album “Plastic Beach,” the digital foursome leave behind the kitsch factor and become in the flesh (for whatever it’s worth), real musicians with an almost better than the real thing album.

The foursome made up of Murdoc Niccals, 2D, Noodle and Russell Hobbs are figments of a great imagination (Damon Albarn of Blur) but it’s never stopped the Gorillaz from being a knockout success.

Most people remember the wiry, clanking and digitally mish mash singles like “Clint Eastwood,” and “Feel Good Inc.”

This time around, melodic structures, weird instrumentals and bizarre talent all make up “Plastic Beach.”

From Snoop Dogg to Lou Reed, “Plastic Beach” sparkles with a rusty element of nostalgia for the future.

The album’s opener “Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach,” features a lucid Snoop Dogg in perhaps the closest he’ll ever come to being ethereal.

Snoop’s laid back rap style is too good for words here, and he coasts on top of a subdued dub step foundation saying “picture me, animate me” as if he could be any more animated.

Fans of the up tempo might be a little put off by “Plastic Beach’s” extensive usage of a distinct mellow motif, but that change in aesthetic doesn’t necessarily equate as a flaw.

Banshy, Kano, and the National Orchestra for Arabic music’s “White Flag,” picks up every now and then with a slight bounce in its step, as the rappers describe a world with no war over a world music feel with touches of the electronic.

Albarn, has on more than one occasion dipped into world music with another side project, The Good, The Bad and The Queen.

The afternoon nap qualities of that effort have crossed over into “Plastic Beach,” heard in the tranquil but strangely quirky “Rhinestone Eyes.”

The success of the Gorillaz is in part because of the eccentric nature of the band itself, but also due to brilliant collaborations.

If Snoop Dogg’s surprising appearance wasn’t enough for music fans, Lou Reed’s sardonic and bitter vocal delivery in the track “Some Kind of Nature,” is delightfully cranky.

On another unexpected guest spot, Mos Def successfully nails the attitude of “Sweepstakes” venturing in and out of the rhythms with such ease.

The lead single of “Plastic Beach,” “Stylo” re-imagines Marvin Gaye’s classic “I Want You,” and fuses it with Bobby Womack and a fuzzy synth line, it’s the stuff made of waking dreams.

The Gorillaz are no strangers to producing a lengthy album, but this new 16 track compilation is nowhere near being quick to the point.

Many of the songs included are consistent with the concept of the album, however; at times these ideas feel like more of a hindrance.

Songs like the titular “Plastic Beach,” and “Superfast Jellyfish” all suffer the same fate of sounding too similar and getting lost in the lineup.

The immediacy of previous Gorillaz albums had easy to identify singles.

While each single is definitely a good single, nothing grabs the listener, that’s the problem with “Plastic Beach.”

It’s definitely one of those albums where listeners have to listen more than once for the album to really settle in.

Rather than creating an album that is easily accessible on the first listen, “Plastic Beach” is more like a score to a utopian land where the environmentalists have abandoned their cause and now the world has gone haywire.

Okay that last bit was a stretch, but a full listen to “Plastic Beach” makes it seem that way.

Coupled with the fact that most of the singles on “Plastic Beach” are rarely without a guest spot and what listeners have is a collaborative compilation conceptual album about a landfill in Africa.

Which on paper sounds like a mess, a disaster even, but it’s something Albarn has slyly but not completely gotten away with.

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