Plastic Beach might seem like two words picked out of a hat and assembled due to a loss of inspiration over the album title, but it doesn’t take long for the metaphors to strike.
Within seconds of Gorillaz’ new offering, it’s possible to picture very clearly a stroll along a beach, littered with the remnants of a music festival. Seagulls shriek above. A few random strings waft across an ocean, melancholy brass tones blow across a sandy shore and a lone rapper sits on his own at a synthesiser, wondering where everyone went. This person is Snoop Doggy Dogg… naturally. London grime rappers Bashy and Kano sail up on a rescue raft and from here on in, it’s beach plastic fantastic.
There's real meaning in here, too. Damon Albarn’s joined musical forces with some true greats to highlight 'microwaves', 'aluminium' and even a jab at carbon footprints. De La Soul, Bobby Womack, Mos Def, the Clash’s Mick Jones and Paul Simonon are all in the mix, swimming in this sea of surreality. The first few numbers could well be the soundtrack to a Disney movie – for grown-ups – as what sounds like turn of the century dance music moves swiftly into electro pop with a dose of panpipes thrown in for good measure.
Plastic Beach comes across as a journey through Albarn’s twisted imaginings. The first time you listen to it, you might come away thinking “What the “fcuk was that?” It doesn’t seem to flow – you can’t quite hear all the lyrics and you’re not entirely sure whether the whole thing is a message to the world about the mess we’ve made of it, or just a random mix of instrumental genius. The second time, you might just decide not to care. It is what it is, and being the Gorillaz, as usual it’s just bloody good music.
Plastic Beach is out March 8th. Check out the video for Stylo here!
Words: Becky Wicks. Photo: EMI music