Review Summary: Like an electronically influenced hip-hop dream, The Fall progresses effortlessly to form a surprisingly cohesive work of art.
It hasn’t even been a year since the release of the critically acclaimed Plastic Beach
, a genre-busting album that blended many of the Gorillaz’ most endearing traits, yet here we are staring at another full-length LP from the band. Give them credit for not simply resting in the laurels of Plastic Beach
’s commercial success…but how can such a hurried effort, recorded almost entirely using an iPad, live up to its predecessor?
Well, to be blunt…it can’t.
But The Fall
still presents us with a solid, if not revolutionary, release from the darlings of technologically influenced hip-hop. Perhaps more than any other Gorillaz album, this is filled to the brim with music that is entirely, indisputably electronic
. The combination of effects utilized can range anywhere from infectious to breathtaking, and consequently, the entire album makes for a rather engaging listen. You have danceable beats in tracks such as the opener, “Phoner to Arizona” and smooth running, almost tropical soundscapes in songs like “Revolving Doors” and “Shy Town.” The flow from track to track is impeccable, and in that respect, it may even be better than Plastic Beach
. Like an electronically inluenced hip-hop dream, The Fall
progresses effortlessly to form a surprisingly cohesive work of art.
The only real issue with The Fall
is that it lacks a good deal of polishing…or to put it bluntly, it is something of a hack job. There is no sense in denying that this album could have been so, so
much more than it is. There could have been a plethora of additional instrumental layers and orchestral contributions like in Plastic Beach
. They could have added vocals into more of the songs so that it isn’t so heavily reliant on the instruments and computerized effects by themselves. They could have, quite simply, just taken their goddamn time
and reworked some of the weaker tracks to strengthen the album as a whole. But they didn’t, and while it significantly limits The Fall
’s upside, it also comes with a few somewhat unexpected perks.
The hasty release of The Fall
may have created a few chinks in its armor, but it also lends the album an endearing sense of candidness. Whereas Plastic Beach
had the benefit of being backed by an assortment of instruments (and even a full orchestra), The Fall
is relatively raw. It still contains heavy synth moments and multiple studio effects, but it feels like they are being laid down for the first time, and you are hearing it before the addition of any pomp and frills, just like the band is. The aforementioned lack of vocals is another thing that may or may not have changed with some extra polishing. It is difficult to say whether this would have helped or hindered the album, because to be honest, the success of vocal contributions are nearly impossible to predict until you hear them and how they are integrated with the music. And on The Fall
, the only thing one can be sure of is that the electronic atmosphere constructed by the Gorillaz and their iPad is exceptionally well executed. The instruments and computerized effects carry the album for extended lengths of the album, and they are more than capable of holding their own.
In essence, The Fall
seems like a bold statement by the Gorillaz. On one hand, we have the fact that it is the second
high quality release by them within the same year. When you factor in the limited means with which they recorded/produced the album, it is almost as if they are figuratively flexing their muscles, flaunting their creative prowess and technical expertise in the process. The Fall
is about as good as you can expect music created from an iPad to be. It may not measure up with the best of the Gorillaz’ discography, but it marks a milestone in the recording industry and, to be frank, it sounds damn
good most of the time. It is far from perfect, but the Gorillaz have given us another relaxing, thoroughly enjoyable album with enough new elements and electronic experimentation to keep things fresh.