Plastic Beach - Why You Should Love It


16. Mär. 2010, 6:28

Have you listened through the new album by the Gorillaz, Plastic Beach? If not, what ARE you waiting for!?

This album took about half a listen-through before it caught. I was listening to it in the car, and thus wasn't paying the most attention to it, so when I got in, I immediately immersed myself with a pair of headphones... That was yesterday. I've listened to the album and bonus tracks, demo tracks, and the Stylo remixes, all of which add up to ~85 glorious minutes, about ten times since then. The album is simply pervasive and addictive.

One listen-through might merit it a lukewarm reception, but only because it's very much a concept album. The casual listener will hear one word, repeated over and over: Plastic. It is a motif for the album, but is interspersed in a way that, once you are submerged in the music, it no longer stands out (except a bit on Rhinestone Eyes, but that song is so fantastic that a little awkwardness almost helps to strengthen the rest of it, if that's possible).

But the album deserves to not be listened to in a judgmental manner, especially not in the first round. It should be savored, because as a whole, it is a beautiful collection of tracks that make a solid whole. Tightly constructed, ethereal arrangements strictly held in their disorderly places has always been a strong suit of Damon Albarn's work with the Gorillaz (Every Planet We Reach Is Dead, anyone?), and never before has his ability been so sharply honed. The more the order in the chaos becomes apparent, the more you are taken into the Plastic Beach. It's an ideal destination.

So far, I have dwelled mostly on the melody of the album, but to leave it at that would be doing a disservice to the featured artists that join the Gorillaz on this project. Little Dragon, Snoop Dogg, Mos Def, Lou Reed, Bobby Womack, De La Soul all grace this album with their talents among other artists typically less known stateside, to say nothing of The Lebanese National Orchestra for Oriental Arabic Music and the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, who provide some of the afforementioned music that really emboldens and enriches the experience.

I've fallen in love with the entire album in roughly the following order:

4. Rhinestone Eyes, which I mentioned earlier;
10. On Melancholy Hill
14. To Binge, featuring hauntingly beautiful, lonely vocals from Yukimi Nagano, of the afforementioned group Little Dragon;
7. Empire Ants, again featuring Little Dragon and Yukimi Nagano;
3. White Flag, with Bashy and Kano (as well as the Lebanese Orchestra);
5. Stylo, from which Bobby Womack's welcoming wail of "If it's love, it's electric..." found its way into my subconscious;
16. Pirate Jet, which uses the title as a background loop to a wonderful effect which the foreground drags out the ending in the best way possible: with a sort-of laid-back, anti-climactic, longing sound that coerces you into starting the album over again;
9. Some Kind of Nature, which features Lou Reed rambling further and further into your mind;
8. Glitter Freeze, featuring Mark E. Smith and some concept that I don't quite understand (what is 'the Glitter Freeze'?), which is later alluded to in Broken, but which is compensated more-than-adequately for by the musical support of the track.
13. Plastic Beach, which should be higher on the list, what with its intriguing and catchy musical sound and all the twists and turns it takes you through.
15. Cloud of Unknowing, which I held out on liking simply because the other songs demanded my attention. This is the other song that features Bobby Womack, and it wraps the album very nicely, as, again, a lonely feeling is evoked.
11. Broken, another one that should be further up... hm...
6. Superfast Jellyfish, and 12. Sweepstakes are both fun tracks, but ones that are sometimes overwhelmed by the vocalists at times and thus took longer to endear themselves to me.
1. Orchestral Intro, which is exactly what it says, and 2. Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach, Snoop Dogg's track, both count as intros in my book, and thus took the longest to grow on me.
***Bonus 17. Pirate's Progress features the extended version of the Orchestral intro and is a great experience all on its own. Bonus 18. Three Hearts, Seven Seas, Twelve Moons is essentially the remains of Electric Shock (Demo), after part of it was extracted for Rhinestone Eyes, but that doesn't take away from its unsettling 'abandoned-but-still-in-operation' "Carnival of Souls" feel, which is of course the strength of this track. I didn't list these two in order, as they are bonus tracks only available on certain special editions, but they are nonetheless worthwhile and thoroughly enjoyable.

Obviously, the songs will appeal to you in your own individual way, but I figured I'd chronicle the progression of this album as it seeped into my mind, just for interest's sake.

I have more to say on this album, but you're probably tired of reading about it...

Besides, you should just go listen to it! Make sure you give it a couple of close listens, because you won't do it justice if you don't, and you won't be as thoroughly rewarded by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett's mastery.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I give it 10 out of 10 lamps.


  • Pinkfloydbeck

    I agree. Fantastic album!

    25. Mär. 2010, 20:07
  • m1a100

    My favorites are: Orchestral Intro WTTWOPB Rhinestone Eyes Superfast Jellyfish Glitter Freeze Broken Sweepstakes Plastic Beach Cloud of Unknowing Pirate Jet and Pirate's Progress

    6. Jun. 2010, 18:24
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