Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Top Five of 2010: 5. Gorillaz- Plastic Beach

"If you watch MTV for too long, it's a bit like hell – there's nothing of substance there. So we got this idea for a cartoon band, something that would be a comment on that."

Yeah, that'll work, right? (crickets chirping)

Those are the words of Gorillaz co-creator and British cartoonist Jamie Hewlett about the brainstorming session that sparked this virtual act in 1998.

The snob in me says the conceit of a cartoon band would be short-lived. There's room for a few months of good-natured social commentary and then all parties will agree to move on.

After all, most cartoons only last as long as the viewing audience's childhood.

In the case of Gorillaz, I would be hopelessly wrong. The British band has real flesh and brains behind their creation, and it helps that Blur genius Damon Albarn is the mastermind.

Here it is 2010 and I'm picking Gorillaz' latest Plastic Beach as one of my favorites. Whooda thunk it?

Three albums in and Albarn's brainchild is not just surviving, it's thriving. Plastic Beach is the strongest of the group's creations, a lush, funky and, surprisingly poignant entry about disposable materialism and its effects on our culture.

The revolving door of guest spots continues. Check hip hop artifacts like Snoop Dogg and De La Soul sharing tape with all-time rock legends like Lou Reed. Only in Gorillaz' ever-expanding, virtual world can these artists co-exist without a heavy dose of awkward.

In the past, Albarn might have turned in grungy freakouts like "Song 2" (you know, the "Whoo Hoo" song), but now he's giving you the Lebanese National Orchestra on "White Flag" to punctuate his world view of music these days.

One of the top tracks is "Rhinestone Eyes," an electro workout where Albarn compares your eyes to "factories far away." You get the idea.

Gorillaz' animated world is growing ever more cranky and weird. Albarn's beach is not like yours. There's no robin's egg sky and gently rolling waves to lull you to sleep on the shore while you read your favorite book.

No, Albarn's beach smells sort of like a dump. There's a tire sinking into the sand over there and that crab scooting across the shore looks like it's missing a few legs.

It's good then that in a world of disposable rotting goods Albarn and Gorillaz are able to create something that will last in a good way.

- SoR

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Salmon,

I at some point might need to put your playlist prowess to good use. Should you choose to accept my theoretical challenge, there will be great riches as reward (that is a blatant lie). As well, the self titled Blur album remains one of my favorite albums of the 90s. Has held its own while the relentless bitch that is time has kept doing its thing. Keep writing in here.

Transmission out.


You dun goofed up (aka Ryan)