A sure-fire way for an artist to build up anticipation is to release nothing but excellent music and to only release an album once every half-decade. This is exactly what the Gorillaz have done in order to excite fans over the group’s upcoming album, Plastic Beach. Having done virtually nothing, save for a quietly released B-sides album, since 2005’s critically acclaimed Demon Days, expectations are at an extreme high for the latest effort from the Gorillaz.
The band’s music continues to combine fun with elevated thought and self-awareness. The majority of the songs are backed by a beat made for dancing and are frequently complimented by reflective, mellow, vocal hooks. Plastic Beach goes beyond Demon Days’ use of textured synths, and the result is an even more nostalgic sound. Many of the songs, including the funk-soul-infused lead single, “Stylo,” contain an element of ’80s sound.
Blur frontman Damon Albarn and comic book artist Jamie Hewlett return as the driving artists behind the animated characters — 2D, Murdoc, Noodle and Russell — who serve as the face of the band. The two continue to deliver edgy, cryptic narratives across different media platforms with distinct style.
The Gorillaz’s latest release continues the project’s appeal as a collaborative effort from a number of diverse artists in addition to Albarn and Hewlett. Guest appearances on Plastic Beach include Mos Def, De La Soul, Snoop Dogg, Paul Simon, Lou Reed, the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble and the Lebanese National Orchestra for Oriental Arabic Music, yet in spite of amount and diversity of the different collaborators, the album blends seamlessly.
Plastic Beach contains a number of great tracks that lie in wait for singles status. “Stylo” has an incredible bass line and is deserving of the attention it will likely garner. The quirky “Superfast Jellyfish” contains unusual sampling from Saturday morning cartoons and a well-harmonized chorus. “On Melancholy” is a more mellow track with the elements of dance and nostalgia.
Another mellow track, “To Binge,” seems perfect for a vacation.