How important is Blur frontman Damon Albarn’s futuristic
cartoon-themed band? Virgin parent
company EMI actually blamed them and Coldplay for declining profits. Maybe not surprisingly, since Gorillaz
notched up multi-platinum sales when such a thing’s become a rarity in the biz.
Keeping a relaxed release schedule, album #3 appears half a
decade after Demon Days and maintains
the theme of multi-styles (funk/rap/soul/rock) and as many guest appearances
than your average rap album. For anyone
who found the first two albums too head-spinning, Plastic Beach is a relief as it’s their most consistent release. Unfortunately, that also makes it their most
boring one, too, as their earlier wild highs (singles like “Clint
Eastwood” & “Feel Good Inc.”) and lows is what made them
exciting and interesting.
Albarn keeps his guest list fascinating (including Lou Reed,
Mark E. Smith, a mini-Clash reunion, Bobby Womack, and an Arabic orchestra) but
except for Womack, they’re mostly wasted, doing undistinguished cameos. As before, the highlights come from the
rappers – Snoop Dogg at his languid best introducing the record, and Mos Def
near the end (“Sweepstakes”).
As for Albarn himself, he sounds kind of tired, whether he’s singing or
All in all, not a terrible record per se, but not one you’ll
run to like the first two albums. Maybe Albarn
needs to let the next record gestate a while longer or try to stop being be an
over-achiever with his other multi-star bands (Monkey; The Good, The Bad and
Standout Tracks: “Welcome to the World of Plastic