Album: Plastic Beach
Comments: I am not British. I prefer my rap music to have dominating, narrative driven lyrics or unique vocal delivery (and If I can get both, well fuck it, I’m sold). My interests in electronic music don’t go much further than well made dance music, engaging ambiance or all out audio-fuckery. Keep these things in mind when I tell you that Plastic Beach is a lame album.
I would understand if you didn’t believe me. Almost every source of meaningful critical output has raved about this record. BBC Music called the album “a new benchmark for collaborative music” in its review. The hipster taste-makers over at Pitchfork gave the album a more-than-solid 8.5, making it their favorite Gorillaz album to date. Even my buds over at No Ripcord loved this damn thing, giving it a perfect score and calling it one of the best albums of the year (not like that really matters, people are handing out 9’s and 10’s over there like they were free kittens). It is entirely possible that I am missing the point.
Fact remains, though, that this is my least favorite Gorillaz record ever. It is the least fun to listen to and the least rewarding to spend time with.. Plastic Beach takes everything I liked about the project and flips it around. Instead of having cartoon-y, goofy funk beats over spirited alt-rap verses (like on the excellent “Dirty Harry” or “Feel Good Inc”), this album is full of wiggly, overwrought production devoid of any engaging rapping to be found outside of “White Flag.”
So pretty much anything catchy or fun has been replaced with more serious and “creative” endeavors this time around, resulting in an album that serious people love, at the expense of anything an unwashed shit like me can use. The whole thing ends up sounding like a Radiohead album if Radiohead were a “rap” group instead of a “rock” group.
Look, I understand that, as an artist, the ultimate goal is to push oneself further and continue to evolve in one’s own craft. I get that stillness is death, and anyone not moving forward isn’t really moving at all. That being said, Gorillaz used to be able to manufacture off-center pop music that defined a clear genre and still struck a chord with the masses. Plastic Beach does not do this. I promise you this: when the year-end best-of lists are released, this album will be on all of them. However, you will be hard pressed to find five people who can honestly say they enjoyed this album more than Demon Days or Gorillaz.
Key Tracks: White Flag, Stylo
Buy, Steal, Skip: Honestly, it could go either way. I bought this record. I expect that I will probably play it three or four more times trying to find the secret to its success before it fades into background music and gets sold to Repo. So let's go with skip.
Cant find a video to embed right now...so...let's all listen to Crazy Train!