Top positive review
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2-D or not 2-D
on 18 April 2011
It seems out of character for a Gorillaz album to materialise so soon after its predecessor. There was a four year gap between the 'self-titled' album and 'Demon Days' and five years between that and 'Plastic Beach'. So many of us are still digesting Plastic Beach and 'pop' there's a new album. The reason being, 'The Fall' is not really a conventional album in the true sense of the word. What Albarn has essentially done is produced an almost solo effort "recorded between Montreal and Vancouver over 32 days last autumn in North America". The album has been completely created on an iPad using various applications.
So off the bat this is worlds apart from what was experienced with 'Plastic Beach'. The album is far, far more relaxed and effortless to listen to. It could easily fall into the category of 'easy listening'. It's an interesting concept. The album feels like a stream of musing and influence by a musician, it feels buoyant and unrestrained, there is no over-exertion and no hint of any track being contrived and over thought. It is dream like, you can almost anticipate that curious loneliness, tumble weed-curiosity; being somewhere else intrigued by a different culture. The more you listen to it the more it feels like the album is capturing steps of a journey; effectively a diary. The album is a series of auditory reflections, it feels as if Albarn is using music in the way most people would write a conventional day-to-day diary.
What Albarn has done takes gumption by the barrel load. It will be met with criticism I don't doubt. However looking back the initial intention of forming the Gorillaz as a band was to create something entertaining that cuts through a lot of unnecessary nonsense the music industry is plagued by and Albarn is doing just that. There is no conformation present and he is not bowing with the stress induced weight that success can bring. The album is consistent, solid, humble and a true reflection of how sharp a songwriter Albarn can be.
Don't get me wrong you won't find any 'Clint Eastwood's' or 'Dare's' on the album, that's not the direction the album has taken. But it is solid and it is consistent. The beauty of the album is that its deeper appeal is something set to slow release, it will work its way in slowly. 'Joplin Spider' is brilliant and 'Revolving Doors' is one of the highlights of the album. You will find yourself singing "Revolving door in London to a foggy day in Boston" on loop for a very long time, it's ferociously addictive.
All in all there is far less pressure involved, it is not as epic, it is simply Albarn doing what Albarn does best. Through the guise of 2-D Albarn gives us a pre-cursory hint "the Fall is mostly just me...something more gentle and just...well...it's just me and an iPad really mucking about...trying out some stuff. Just looking at America and then tapping on the screen...I'm not really concentrating too hard on it". And that is exactly how it should be anticipated. Don't over expect and you will be pleasantly surprised.