Review Summary: A mediocre offering from a band capable of so much more.
Gorillaz are quite the interesting band, to say the least. They create fun dance music (for lack of a better term) that appeals in a mainstream sense without sounding derivative or complacent. Since 2001, with the release of their well-received self-titled debut, the group has been using their innovation to craft catchy engaging pop songs with somewhat of a hip-hop bent.
The band has grown over the years and have continued to produce generally well-received material, 2010’s Plastic Beach
being the latest installment in their impressive discography. Personally, I didn’t care for Plastic Beach
very much, but their other two albums are favourites of mine, so I would still consider myself a fan, overall.
Then, while touring in 2010, an album was thrown together, apparently almost entirely using an Apple iPad. Now I don’t really care how it was recorded. The bottom line is the quality of the music. Sure, some will say that this is a gimmick, but if the music turns out to be good, that point is moot.
Luckily the music is good. Kind of.
On The Fall
, the group once again displays that they are very good music makers. They have many interesting and unique ideas to keep the listener interested throughout most of the 43-minute run time. However, the issue with The Fall
is that it just kind of washes over you; it passes by almost unnoticed. It’s a nice listen, and there’s nothing wrong
with it in the musical sense. But it all seems so lifeless compared to the energy present in early Gorillaz classics like ‘Clint Eastwood’ or ‘Kids with Guns.’
I guess what I’m trying to say is that there’s no zazz. That’s right, zazz. You know, zazz. It’s similar to oomph. (I believe it was derived from the Latin ‘pizazz’ meaning, roughly, “A quantifiable amount of something special”) And this is a band that really needs a certain amount of zazz to be great. Lots of people can mess with electronic noises on their iPad and create coherent, even good songs. But in the hands of a band as innovative as Gorillaz has been in the past, you just expect more. Album opener ‘Phoner to Arizona’ is a nice enough opener, and the transition into the next track ‘Revolving Doors’ is really well done. Unfortunately, as with much of the rest of the album, that’s all it is. Nice. Inoffensive, somewhat interesting, but not gripping or engrossing at all.
One notable exception that does make this album somewhat worthwhile is the track ‘Amarillo.’ With this song, Gorillaz turn down the electro-fiddling and restrain themselves enough to come off sounding similar to an indie band like TV on the Radio’s softer side. A very catchy melody is combined with controlled vocals and a soothing, but driving drum beat to easily claim highlight of the album. However, this one track is hardly enough to save The Fall
Perhaps if their material was properly worked out in a studio so that they could recognize which were their good songs (like ‘Amarillo’) and which were forgettable filler (like, oh, the rest of the album), Gorillaz really could have grabbed our attention once again with something captivating and glorious. Or, perhaps this is just another reason that the iPad sucks (no multitasking? Come on). Perhaps we can blame it on the fact that group was likely way too tired from performing their elaborate shows on stage several times a week to create any new material that doesn’t come across as bland or forced.
Whatever the explanation, the latest release from our favourite band of monkeys since The Monkees is just plain boring. Not bad, not gimmicky, but boring.