Gorillaz
Plastic Beach


2.5
average

Review

by Nick Butler EMERITUS
March 12th, 2010 | 186 replies | 37,986 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An identity crisis caught on record.

It's the most normal-sounding Gorillaz album yet in the sense that it's the one that could most easily have been made by anybody else, but the guest-heavy, unfocused Plastic Beach is certainly the weirdest one to listen to. For a band who were so fun and unique on their first couple of records, it's bewildering how they've managed to become something entirely different in spirit without actually changing all that much on the surface.

It all comes down to the massed rank of vocalists here, ultimately. There's no doubting that the most fun thing you can do with this album is put it on, having never heard it before and never looked at the tracklisting, and wait in amazement for the moment you say 'holy crap, is that Bobby Womack?', or 'wow, Kano!, or 'seriously, Snoop Dogg is on this?'. It's the defining feature of the album, but it's also the biggest failing, because it destroys this band's own personal identity.

That doesn't mean that Plastic Beach doesn't sound like a Gorillaz album; far from it, in fact, and that's the real problem. All these songs just sound too much like Gorillaz songs, in an uncomfortable, self-conscious way. Albarn clearly understood that having so many outside influences would confuse things, and so he's made sure that everything has had the once-over to make it sound like a true follow-up to Demon Days. As a result it completely lacks any spontaneity or, really, any fun - for example, there's something far too studied about the cod-exoticism of "White Flag", even though Albarn goes for maximum authenticity points by bringing in the Lebanese National Orchestra, while "Rhinestone Eyes" tries to co-opt Beck's laid-back attitude, but sounds wound-up. The tacky, shamefully '80s sounding basslines and sound effects all over the place (see "Stylo", "Glitter Freeze", "On Melancholy Hill", and "Plastic Beach") are just the nadir of a production job that pitches itself so squarely at 'cool' that you just know it'll sound horribly dated in 3 years.

It rubs off on the guest vocalists, too. Mos Def particularly is disappointing, his performances sounding more New Danger than Ecstatic - it's yet more proof, if it were needed, that he can only ever be truly great over traditional hip-hop and he should probably just stay away from rock and pop altogether. The best thing you could say about Kano is that he sounds comfortable, but his raps lack fire and inspiration, while Lou Reed and Snoop Dogg sound exactly like the washed-up lazy has-beens they are. Gruff Rhys too, to a lesser extent.

Shame, really. This whole project has to go down as a missed opportunity - for the vocalists to properly branch out, for Gorillaz to push on from two very impressive albums, and for Albarn to make any kind of statement at all on climate change (apparently this is a concept album about global warming - who knew?)



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user ratings (1205)
Chart.
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Jasdevi087 (4)
    ...

    Peter Tabakis (4)
    Damon Albarn establishes himself as a pop auteur. Pop hits be damned, consistency rules he...

    TheSmoke (4.5)
    Plastic Beach is an very good album that nerver gets boring, it´s dreamy and it´s not co...

    clavichordwolf (2)
    Plastic Beach is nothing but candy-coated bullshit played for satire....

  • Plutonio (3)
    Plastic Beach is another album from hip-hop's eclectic superheroes; this time their eclect...

    DhA (4)
    Not that different from previous releases, although the lack of a killer single may make t...

    piero (4)
    Maybe Plastic Beach represents the beginning of the end of musical labeling, the start of ...

    Deviant STAFF (4)
    Round 3 for Albarn and co. proves that third time is still indeed the charm....

  • sobelecta (4.5)
    Album number three doesn't disappoint from the former Blur man....

    Raul Stanciu STAFF (3.5)
    After two brilliant efforts, Albarn & Co. are back with a bigger number, this time more s...


Comments:Add a Comment 
klap
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2010



10258 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

concurred

Digging: The Bilinda Butchers - Heaven

Iai
Emeritus
March 12th 2010



3553 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Pretty surprised at the good reaction this is getting tbh.

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2010



10258 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

yeah i don't really get it either

porch
March 12th 2010



8451 Comments


I strongly disagree

Phantom
March 12th 2010



8930 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

sputnik in staff dropping ball sensation

Thor
March 12th 2010



10176 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Second paragraph says it all really, I think this album is really fun but it doesn't sound like a Gorillaz album at all, which was what made the self-titled so unique and fun (and still their best IMO)

Iai
Emeritus
March 12th 2010



3553 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

sputnik user in pokemon avatar shocker

PuddlesPuddles
March 12th 2010



4765 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I think I'm leaning more in this direction

Phantom
March 12th 2010



8930 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

now i'm mad

robin
Emeritus
March 12th 2010



4241 Comments


i still feel like i live under a rock for ahving never listened to this band. and yet i have listened to those ridiculous post-gorillaz albarn projects. nice review btw dude

Romulus
March 12th 2010



8411 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

We want a dislike option!

Great review though.

PirateSquid
March 12th 2010



1881 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

...
So you think Avenged Sevenfold is better than this album?

porch
March 12th 2010



8451 Comments


and Vampire Weekend

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2010



30873 Comments


Well written as usual, but I strongly disagree

Digging: FaltyDL - In The Wild

ArcanisTheOmnipotent
March 12th 2010



61 Comments


[enter text]Haven't heard this yet, I never thought they were very good though.[/enter text]

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2010



30873 Comments


[enter text] I am a robot [disable text]

porch
March 12th 2010



8451 Comments


Must be a troll gimmick, surely

NortherlyNanook
March 12th 2010



1285 Comments


i've heard about half of the songs off this, and i really didn't care for it

planning to not listen to the other half based on this review and other recommendations from friends to not bother

AggravatedYeti
March 12th 2010



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

mmmmmm, don't see it.

well written as usual though.

Bulldog
March 12th 2010



3796 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

I agree Nick. The album just feels sloppy to me in addition to having some filler on it. Well written.

EDIT: Alot of awesome songs are on here though.



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