Track by Track: Plastic Beach 6 YEARS ON

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So, Gorillaz might be coming back. The new Instagram has been set up, documenting the band’s history, and I am listening to them again. Do I make a new track by track? Well, I was originally going to capitalise on this development by posting my original ‘Full Album review’ of the album. I have not.

I wrote the review in 2012, back when I started the blog, and with it being 4 years later, I couldn’t just repost it. My views, tastes, and opinions have changed over time. So I will instead re-review the album to see if it still holds up. It will be interesting to see which songs I like and dislike now compared to 2012’s review.

TRACK ONE: ORCHESTERAL INTRO

This is actually a shortened section of an almost 5 minute long piece done by the first guest artist of the album. I will post the full version here which is not available on Spotify. In 2012, I said this was a good album opener, and I agree with my previous sentiments. What better way to open your album than a full orchestra?

TRACK TWO: WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF THE PLASTIC BEACH

And our first song segues into our second featuring Snoop Dog. This album featured a lot of guest artists, compared to the last 2 albums Gorillaz did. At the time, this annoyed me, but as Gorillaz isn’t a band in the traditional sense (being a virtual musical project), this is forgivable. But it is a peeve I have with the album, especially when the songs aren’t all to your taste. This one is. I am not a fan of Snoop Dog, but this song is still catchy, and you do find yourself occasionally singing along with it. The drums and bass are especially good to give the song that catchy beat, something I mentioned in the previous post. All in all, a great song.

TRACK THREE: WHITE FLAG

I did not have much to say about this song when I first wrote my post, and I must say I skip this song because I really don’t like it at all. There’s good bits in it, with the Lebanese National Orchestra giving the song some creativity, which all the songs on this album have. The whole album is creative, and does things differently. This song however is not for me.

TRACK FOUR: RHINESTONE EYES

It still annoys me that you have to wait until the 4th track to hear Gorillaz perform, but it is worth the wait, as Rhinestone eyes is a great song. It is traditional catchy Gorillaz, with Damon Albarn as Gorillaz Singer 2D not missing a beat after what was half a decade since they released Demon Days. This song, and others on this album, are great at producing imagery through the lyrics, and this piece is one of the best examples of that.

TRACK FIVE: STYLO

I mentioned Demon Days when discussing Stylo, and this song sees the reuniting of Gorillaz and Mos Def, who were the other singers in Feel Good Inc. As well as Bobby Womack, who delivers in this song. That bassline is one of the coolest things in this song, and makes it the coolest song on the album. And like I said in my earlier post, CHECK OUT THIS VIDEO. It is simply just one of the best Gorillaz music videos I have seen. Heck, I will link it on the title of this section

TRACK SIX: SUPERFAST JELLYFISH

This song is stupid. Not the bad kind of stupid, but the good kind of LOL stupid that is actually quite funny. The fact my brother laughed at it says it all really. I like it because it is a quirky song about a fictional food in this world they created. It is one of the most lighthearted songs on the album, especially needed in anticipation for the next track…

TRACK SEVEN: EMPIRE ANTS

This song I would call the emotional backbone of the album. It is quieter, using acoustic guitar to set a calm mood for the listener, and especially fitting with the lyrics. This song builds up and up and features a great techno beat. I love this song, which I use to help fall asleep when I listen to late night music. I feel the song could have lasted longer, but I think it is about just right as is. I would say this track is a must listen.

TRACK EIGHT: GLITTER FREEZE

In one word, manic. This song is manic but epic at the same time. Empire ants built up over time in its instrumentation, like the weather being calm one minute and becoming breezy over time. Glitter Freeze is like a storm you wake up to in the morning that just doesn’t let up in its instrumentation. It is an electronic eargasm of noise. I imagine this would be the sort of song that would split people 50:50, though I am in the camp that quite likes it for its manic nature.

TRACK NINE: SOME KIND OF NATURE

For me, this song is for fans of Lou Reed. Not for me. I find his voice to be quite monotone. If you like it, then that’s great. Art is purely subjective in its form of stimulation of the mind, and Lou Reed doesn’t do it for me. The song is good in that it fits his voice, and for that you can’t say its bad, but I don’t like it.

TRACK TEN: ON MELANCHOLY HILL

The entire reason I went out to buy this album. I love this song. While overtime it has been surpassed as my favourite of the album, it is the reason I bought it. The lyrics, the music, the upbeat nature of it is just excellent. And it has the best music video, up there with Stylo’s actually. Would highly recommend this song above all others. It is so good.

TRACK ELEVEN: BROKEN

A good twinning of songs with Track’s 10 and 11. The song uses Melodica, and gives it a pretty spacey sound, while continuing the other tropes I praise this album for. The melodica fits the lyrics and the themes conveyed in the song of being broken, in whatever way I leave for you to decide. I believe it is about depression, though I may be completely wrong.

TRACK TWELVE: SWEEPSTAKES

I will keep my thoughts on this song short. I do not like it. It is perhaps my least favourite song on the album. While certainly different, it isn’t to my taste. I just do not like it. Nuff said really.

TRACK THIRTEEN: PLASTIC BEACH

The guitar has a very Pink Floyd sound to it, and it a very good title track. While the guitar only markes the intro of the song, I would have liked to have heard a non techno themed version of it, just out of curiosity. All in all a good song, but I wish the ending built to something a lot better than what we got. Ultimately, a good listen. Not enough to call it a must listen, but I wouldn’t skip it either.

TRACK FOURTEEN: TO BINGE

This track, though, it is a must listen. The duet between Albarn and Little Dragon is adorable to say the least, and the instrumentation gives me images of a hawaiian beach as I listen to it, or as I said in the original post ‘floating in a paddle boat in the middle of the sea’. It is so chill and so relaxed, that you just want to lie down and listen. Its almost like a lullaby. I love this song. It is one of the best on this album.

TRACK FIFTEEN: THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING

I originally disliked this song on my first few listens. In my original review, I said I didn’t like it as much because it was the slowest song on the album. While I imagine that this was going to be the big emotional song of this album, Empire Ants did it better. But I like this song for giving Womack a chance to just sing, and use his powerful voice with minimal noise in the background. A good listen that you just shouldn’t skip.

TRACK SIXTEEN: PIRATE JET

The closing number of the album is a nice bookend to it all that is done in such a way I swear you could loop the song and it would never end. I think it is a great last track to the album, though nothing special. It is certainly good though, and that brings me on to my final views.

CONCLUSIONS

Plastic Beach is still a good solid album. In some places, my views have changed, or solidified, over time, and one of them is my overall review of this album. Plastic beach is a good, solid album. I would highly recommend it as on par with Demon Days, though a much more adventurous outing for the band than their previous album. With this adventurous nature, there are mistakes, but they’re honestly nothing big. A lot of my peeves were subjective, and I would highly recommend Plastic Beach. As for the cryptic posts on Social Media, I will give my short views on them.

I do think Gorillaz are making another album. Its been all but confirmed that they’re doing something, and it will be interesting to see what the band does in today’s music scene. It was 5 years ago when The Fall was released, and with this potential 5th album, I think we’re going to see something interesting. You may love it, you may loathe it, but to decide that, you’ve got to listen to it.

 

 

About the author

Ben

Since 2012, Benjamin Attwood has written for the If you Ask Ben blog.

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