Posts Tagged ‘gorillaz


Album Review: Broken Bells

You get two kinds of people in this world – those that hear music and those that listen to music.

About 80% of the world hears music. It’s something that plays in the background of their lives between dancing from one club to another, falling in love with one person after the other and popping out one kid after the other.



Those people, they don’t care about the stories behind the music they listen to. They will hear a band like Broken Bells and they’ll love it and a week later they’ll completely forget they ever heard it and move on to the next band.

Which, I guess, is a testament to how fucking incredible this band is.

Remember The Shins? Two of their tracks featured on the Garden State soundtrack back in 2004 after which they enjoyed a brief stint in the limelight before people got bored and promptly forgot they ever existed.

Well, Broken Bells is made up of The Shins’ frontman and guitarist James Mercer and one Brian Burton, or Danger Mouse as he is more widely known.



Danger whothefuck? I hear you ask. Danger Mouse, the guy who produced Gnarls Barkley’s albums St. Elsewhere (2006) and The Odd Couple (2008) as well as the phenomenal Gorillaz album Demon Days (2005) and the highly underrated Beck album Modern Guilt (2008).

Tie all those albums up together, throw in Mercer’s best vocals I’ve ever heard on an album, add a whole heap of great hooks, free flowing melodies and laid-back beats and you’ll start to get an idea of what Broken Bells sounds like.

What we’re talking about here is an album you can put on the next time your buddies and their respective girlfriends come over for a few drinks, and it will play from beginning to end without anyone getting up to change it.

The marriage of Mercer’s folksy guitar riffs and Burton’s synth soundscapes is so damn perfect you’d swear they’d done at least three or more albums together to reach the musical pinnacle that is Broken Bells.

There is not one sound on this album that is unnecessary. Musically, it’s as tight as they come, Burton knows exactly what to do and when to do it and the result is an album that is multilayered without being cluttered and claustrophobic, is chilled out without making you nod off halfway through and is poppy without being mindless and puerile.



What also impressed me is how far Mercer has pushed his vocals on this album. He experiments with vocal registers that I thought were far beyond his reach and nails them almost effortlessly and his lyrics on songs like ‘The Mall And Misery’ (‘Oh she lies half burning / From the battling crows… There’s a new world / Somewhere a good girl / Lives and breathes’) are as carefully written as the subtle melodies Burton weaves around them.

Sure, ‘The Ghost Inside’ has undertones of the Gnarls Barkley hit ‘Crazy’ and ‘Your Head Is On Fire’ could pass as an MGMT track on valium, and yes, musically you aren’t going to hear anything on this album that hasn’t already been done before, but the point is, Broken Bells do it fucking well.

Somewhere between trip hop, psychedelia, folk rock and eccentric pop you’ll find this album and if you’re a fan of any of those genres, it will be one of the best albums you’ll hear this year.

You don’t have to be a music aficionado to appreciate this album, which is why I would recommend it, very highly, to just about anyone.

Final Verdict: 8/10


Album Review: Gorillaz – Plastic Beach

The new Gorillaz album is definitely their worst offering to date. Don’t believe what all the music critics out there would have you believe, they’re full of shit and so is this album.



This album will confuse you. You’ll think it’s interesting and cute at first, but after a few listens you’ll concede that like toilet spray, all the aural bells and whistles that saturate this album are nothing more than a thin disguise to try and hide the fact that this album stinks.

In my humble opinion, Damon Albarn, the creative genius behind The Gorillaz (and former frontman of the best Britpop band to ever play, Blur) is running out of ideas. He collaborates with no less than 15 different artists on this heap of dung album, which probably explains why listening to it feels the same way trying to do long division sums in your head used to back when you still remembered how.

Never trust a pop album that opens with classical music. What that tells you right from the outset is that it’s trying to be something it’s not. Throw that shit the fuck away.

‘Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach’ featuring Snoop Dogg is, in two simple words, fucking boring. One critic commented how Snoop has never sounded so chilled and laid back in a track before. Yeah, that’s because he’s not even fucking trying!



I don’t like rap at the best of times, but the way Albarn has allowed it to overrun this album is nauseating. Toneless, repetitive and banal, tracks like ‘White Flag (featuring Bashy, Kano & The National Orchestra for Arabic Music)’ (I know, what the fuck?) and ‘Sweepstakes (featuring Mos Def & Hypnotic Brass Ensemble)’ are so utterly devoid of the quirky intelligence that used to define Gorillaz that they’ll have you banging your head against a wall to get a little mental stimulation going.

The good news is that, with 18 tracks on the album, there are at least some that find their mark. ‘Rhinestone Eyes’, has a nursery rhyme kind of charm to it that, combined with the sinister synth undertones in the chorous is a lot closer to the Gorillaz we all know and love.

‘Stylo (featuring Mos Def & Bobby Womack)’ is also a pretty decent, retro R&B track that kind of sounds like the Flight Of The Conchords track ‘Inner City Pressure’ and ‘Superfast Jellyfish (featuring Gruff Rhys & De La Soul)’ is quirky enough to remain interesting and is reminiscent of ‘19-2000’ (‘got the cool shoeshine’) off their eponymous debut album.

The best track by far on the album is ‘Some Kind Of Nature’ featuring Lou Reed of all people. It’s a classic Gorillaz track and probably the closest the album comes to delivering a ‘Clint Eastwood’ or ‘Feel Good Inc.’



Besides that, there really isn’t much to say about this album. The general feeling I get from listening to it is similar to the way Sunday night feels after an awesome weekend. You’ll find yourself gazing off contemplatively a lot when listening to Plastic Beach, wandering what the hell happened to put such a downer on the brilliantly-written pop masterpieces that adorned the previous two albums.

Final Verdict: 5/10

A Word From The Kind Folks At Nokia

January 2020
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