by ISAAC WHALEN
Their third studio album since 2005, Gorillaz released “Plastic Beach” in early March, to mixed reviews and little splash here in the states.
With numerous guest artists like Snoop Dogg, Mos Def and Bobby Womack, Gorillaz deliver another 16 tracks with their trademark trip-pop feel. Tracks like “On Melancholy Hill” and “Glitter Freeze” mix hip-hop beats with catchy riffs one might find on a jazz album, while other songs like “Stylo” and “Rhinestone Eyes” hearken back to Gorillaz early works by invoking that spooky-pop feel that made them famous.
One of the few changes that has taken place with this “virtual band” is the introduction of the beach mentality. Typically, the CGI characters are depicted as living in a haunted mansion, yet as the album title might imply, the quartet have taken up residence at a mythical beach made entirely out of trash.
Their song “To Binge,” which features Little Dragon, incorporates this beach theme with guitar riffs that echo the “Endless Summer” theme by The Sandals. All of the tracks seem more mellow than anything on their first two albums. Despite this fact, much of the work seems only a slight variation on the typical Gorillaz style and mood.
However, the adept listener will not be turned off by this. The album title implies a beach that has been ruined by plastic, a theme that is seen throughout the album. A majority of the song lyrics deal with thoughts on consumerism, and mass production, images that work with the “Plastic Beach” idea. Rather than break their typical musical mode, Gorillaz have embraced it and used it to carry out their message, a feat most artists cannot accomplish.
When one takes the time to really think about all the collaboration that this album took, not to mention the fact that this compilation has been in the works since June of 2008, a deeper appreciation can be reached. While “Plastic Beach” may appear to be more of the same, long-time Gorillaz fans will not be let down and new ones will enjoy its genre-defying approach.