The music of Plastic Beach by Gorillaz (2010)

31Aug11

Check out Part 1: The concept of Plastic Beach
…and Part 2: The art of Plastic Beach

Artist: Gorillaz
Album: Plastic Beach
Year: 2010
Genre: alternative, hip hop, R&B, classical

Mood: talking about important stuff while drinking

You’ll like this if you like: mixed genres in the same song, Snoop Dogg, Beastie Boys, New Order, Massive Attack

Best Tracks: ‘White Flag’, ‘Empire Ants’, ‘Rhinestone Eyes’, ‘Stylo’, ‘On Melancholy Hill’

Why Should You Care?
Well…Plastic Beach was the best album of 2010, and if you disagree with me then I would be happy to laugh at your suggested top record. Put simply, this opus has something for everyone’s taste. For the full concept experience, you’d want to dive into the stuff I described earlier this week before taking a listen. But assuming that you’re not going to do that, let’s break down the record as it plays on your iPod.

Things start off beautifully with the ‘Orchestral Intro’, parts of which had been heard before in teaser videos. This gem ties the whole concept together wonderfully with seagulls and other sounds of the sea accompanied by horns and strings. But just when you thought Gorillaz were gonna get all serious on you, Snoop Dogg and a droning bass line are added to the orchestra to kick this thing into another gear. Snoop’s lyric “I know it seems like the world is so hopeless” ties right into the theme of Plastic Beach, and its juxtaposition of junk against nature’s beauty. Speaking of juxtapositions, ‘White Flag’ keeps the orchestra/rap hybrid flowing, and happens to be my favorite track. ‘Rhinestone Eyes’ returns lead singer 2D (really Damon Albarn) to the mic, and if you dig groovy alternative stuff then this is the song for you. The album’s opening set is wrapped up with single ‘Stylo’, featuring an all star cast of Mos Def, legendary R&B singer Bobby Womack, and of course Bruce Willis as seen yesterday in the video!

Starting with track 6 ‘Superfast Jellyfish’, the record shifts a bit toward experimental sounds and dives further into the Plastic Beach concept. ‘Superfast Jellyfish’ is an outwardly goofy track about breakfast food for those at sea (but with a microwave haha) featuring De La Soul. ‘Empire Ants’ is the hidden gem of the record…it’s an epic and dreamy song where 2D teams up with Little Dragon to deliver the album’s most theatrical take on the junk/nature concept. ‘Glitter Freeze’ strips away the beauty and adds some muscle to the record, perfectly setting up Lou Reed’s vocals on ‘Some Kind of Nature’. I could see where this track could be the one most people skip, but I really love the simplicity of everything here: the sing-songy vocals, the bouncy piano and beat, and most of all this song’s lyrics are quite obviously the flagship of the Plastic Beach concept.

‘On Melancholy Hill’ returns 2D to the world where he used to live before being stranded at sea, when suddenly at the end of the song a lighthouse bell abruptly reminds him that it’s only a dream. LOVE THAT MOMENT! ‘Broken’ is dark and cool, ‘Sweepstakes’ an off-the-wall mash-up of styles that Mos Def rapped over in one take, and the title track ‘Plastic Beach’ stays weird with trippy guitars and beats to remind you that life on the island can get bizarre. Little Dragon pops up again on ‘To Binge’, a simple but pretty track. Bobby Womack’s mastery makes another appearance on ‘Cloud of Unknowing’, a dark and confusing song that feels more and more important every time you hear it…I’ve been told by numerous friends that this is their favorite cut from Plastic Beach, and I can see why! ‘Pirate Jet’ finishes things off as strangely as they began.

Some versions of Plastic Beach featured additional tracks:

If it’s not obvious yet, I love Plastic Beach and recommend it highly. Take a moment below to share your thoughts on this masterpiece, and if you don’t have it yet then waste no time in purchasing this brilliant work of art!

music turtle recommends: BUY IT!

Check out Part 1: The concept of Plastic Beach
…and Part 2: The art of Plastic Beach

What do you think about this album? Comment below

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