I was pretty excited about this album when I heard about it and heard lead single 'Stylo' the single had a new sound and it sounded good, still keeping a very much gorillaz theme to it. But when I heard Plastic Beach for the first time last week, I was a bit disappointed, I couldn't really get into it, regardless I bought it today and now have changed my mind completley from my first listen. I think I wasn't in the right frame of mind listening to it last week, because something has changed now, I think it is pretty marvelous. It is quite a different listen to both of their previous albums, but then again it has been 5 years and Gorillaz, aren't really a band at all, rather just a list of collaborating artists, which is getting longer and longer after each album. When looking at the guest list for this album it is nice to see a mix of big names and more established names, you definitley need to be a music lover to be aware of all the artists featured. You can tell it is an album of the people they wanted to work with rather than, the biggest artists they could get hold of, I feel the choice of artists to work with make it an original and not a tacky collaborative album, all you don't want is it to sound like timberland produced the album. One of my favourite songs and I would say a future single is 'Superfast Jellyfish' with Gruff Rhys and De La Soul, they have already worked with De La Soul on songs like 'Feel Good Inc' but they clearly like to work together and they make sweet sweet music together once again on this track, one of the stand out songs on the album, proving it doesn't have to be a headlining featuring act to stand out of the crowd. Like always, there is a preference of hip hop artists over the album, but with the electric sounds going on throughout the album this is by no means a bad thing, Gorillaz have a great Trip-Hop sound, which after 3 albums, has been refined and is a sound like no other.
The glue holding the 'band' together is Damon Albarn, who without his vocals the album would sound like a bit of a shambles, with so many featuring artists, his vocals (who really aren't the '2D' vocals he used on their debut album, they are firmly good ol' blur Damon Albarn) remind you of who you are listening to and bring it all together. The few songs which don't feature any collaborations succeed highly with his vocals, 'Rhinestone Eyes' and 'On Melancholy Hill' are fantastic songs with just his vocals, at times its almost a shame that so much of the album is taken over by other people taking the lead vocals. The second man behind Gorillaz is Jamie Hewlitt, the animator who creates the artwork, videos, etc... for the band, Personally I used to love the Gorillaz artwork and video's and although I do like the Bruce Willis featuring video for 'Stylo' I do feel that it really isn't so much of a part of the band nowadays. I kind of wish that that part of the band would come back into the foreground a bit and maybe with more video's and inevitable gigs coming up in the future that side of the band will be used more but I just don't think it clicks with the band in this album. It's an electro sounding album, very much albarn's baby and the punky Gorillaz band we were introduced to 10 years ago don't really fit anymore, heck there images for the first time aren't even on the album cover. Maybe after this album, it is time to give up on the Gorillaz name and just make an album of Albarn and friends. It's a negative, but not much of one, since 'Demon Days' Gorillaz has focused on the collabrations and the great music and that's what this is all about, the music comes first, the collaborations, although many of them, never seem to take over from the sense of an album very much with a prevelant style and a somewhat dodgy backstory that is the 'Plastic Island' which the songs and artwork focus upon.