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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 3 March 2010
This album fits together more elegantly than the previous Gorillaz albums. It plays like the smooth, laid-back soundtrack to a long lie in the sun (perhaps in the garden, or, if you have one to hand, on a beach). The slightly soporific/hypnotic spell is broken by the chaotic party music of Sweepstakes - but that track is a fun, intense ride.

Expect a slightly slower pace than Demon Days, and, instead of the latter album's mood of "help - the apocolypse is coming", a feel of "okay, here we are in a post-apocolyptic world, let's make the best of it". How you react to that message is up to you.

What's amazing about this music is that, even though it fits together so beautifully, there are so many different elements - western and arabic orchestral music, several flavours of rap (laid back, cheap & cheeky, intense & high), loose semi-improvised brass, dub, alternative rock, 70s and 80s electronica, comedy jingles, crooning, vocal harmonies, snippets that reminded me of Brian Eno, Jean Michel Jarre, David Bowie, Tangerine Dream, and many, many others, and that's before you even get to the various guest stars (Lou Reed, Mark E Smith, De La Soul, Little Dragon, Bobby Womack, Mos Def, Gruff Rhys, etc.) who each bring their own highly personal styles. The guests are fully integrated and feel completely authentic parts of the sound. There are moments that are sleepy, racy, romantic, funny, camp, cool, trippy, danceable, ghostly, nostalgic, futuristic.

This album has a chilled-out feel yet is packed with so much variety and so many overlapping layers of rhythm, sounds, intriguing words, and sweet counterpoint melodies that it will be very hard to get bored no matter how many times you listen.
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on 7 March 2010
I pre-ordered this album after having a quick listen to the samples and liking them. I loved their previous album 'Demon Days', and so was really looking forward the long awaited next album from Gorillaz. And I have to say that I haven't been dissapointed. This album is more chilled out in a way, with a lot more orchestral tunes, almost hypnotic at times. But this does not make it any less of an achievment for them. Infact I really like it, it's different, but at the same time doesn't seem to vear away from the usual stuff we are all familliar with with the Gorillaz gang. I love this album, it's something different from them. I'm just glad it came so quick!
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VINE VOICEon 16 March 2010
Plastic Beach is the long-awaiting follow-up to the Gorillaz' 2005 album Demon Days and (for me, at least) is the first 'must buy' album of 2010 and is definitely going to be the soundtrack to my summer.

The tracks are a bit of a mixed bag, ranging from their usual indie/hip-hop crossover on tracks like "Sweepstakes" (with guest vocals from the awesome Mos Def) and "Superfast Jellyfish" (which is my favourite track from the whole album, making me realise how much I actually miss the light-hearted and upbeat raps from the timeless greats, De La Soul) to more darker, yet surprisingly mellow tunes such as "On Melancholy Hill" and "Glitter Freeze". The constant shift in styles is most welcome though as it offers a wide variety of concept sounds, some which are so abstract that they did actually take a few listens to before I actually even began to like them.

This is a great album, not one that I'd say will hit you with an instant favourite straight away but is most rewarding after a few listens. The sound is completely new from their previous albums but is excellent all the same. Highly recommended.
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on 19 December 2015
He's avin a laugh aint he?? I dont know what Albarn was playing at when he wrote this dreck but its pretty awful... still even the Beatles wrote total flops like,'Yellow Submarine' & even the great Sir Paul McCarteney wrote the worst single of all time, ''Ebony & Ivory not to mention that dreadful 'Frog Song'
S0o this album could be referred to as Damon Albarns, 'Yellow Submarine.'
Its not a patch on the first two albums which are really good, luckily tho I only paid 60p for it on good old Amazon so no real harm there but I did feel i'd been slightly done.
I think its high time he went & got himself a sensible haircut & a pair of stout walking shoes,,,
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on 6 March 2010
I've been hooked on this band as a total experience/experiment since the beginning, and have rarely been disappointed from any angle. This latest album is no different.
One has to approach Gorillaz with open expectations, as they change just a bit with each 'phase.' This version of their sound is infused with a muzak feel, further completing the beach concept by creating an open, relaxed atmosphere through about half the album. Personally, I find the weaker tracks to be those with the (admittedly imposing) guest performers. While Mark E. Smith, Lou Reed, Bobby Womack and other heavy (and not so heavy) hitters certainly add their own unique styles to their respective tracks, the most unified and interesting listening tends to be the Gorillaz-only tracks.
This Experience Edition was a natural choice for me, from the three possible options. A big element of my fandom for these guys is the Hewlett world surrounding them, and the pop-culture heavy gems hidden throughout, so I had to get the most immersive version. The game online (as of this writing) is not fully available, but already promises great fun and strangeness. The computer extras available online include 2 screensavers and a handful of lovely wallpapers. A further streaming performance is due to follow for the 'access card' included. The digital booklet is a little useless, since this version actually comes with the paper one, but it's nice to be able to download it or just peruse it online.
I haven't watched the documentary DVD yet, though I took a look at the beginning. Frankly, there should've been more on the disc, since the documentary is only half an hour long, but I'm not really complaining; it promises to be entertaining and revealing.
Overall, I'd say this is only worthwhile for we impatient Gorillaz fans, since I feel certain all this stuff will turn up on the eventual Phase Three DVD...just like they have in the past. Solid album, though, and it's nice to be able to dive right into the Gorillaz experience.
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VINE VOICEon 4 March 2010
Gorillaz (and by that token Damon Albarn) aren't exactly renowned for being the fastest-producing musicians in history. It's been a whole five years since the excellent Demon Days, and their debut seems so far in the past it seems to belong to another era.
But there's a justified reason for this: great music cannot be rushed. If it takes half a decade to create a masterpiece, then so be it. In fact, Plastic Beach is an allegory against cheap, mass-produced and disposable culture. The eponymous island itself is built upon the detritus of what's been thrown away and forgotten, creating something out of nothing and making it a desirable paradise. The message is clear, and ripples throughout the whole album.

Albarn at this point is an old hand at conveying an important message via a great tune, and not only is Plastic Beach no exception, it's arguably the best example of this yet. The epic orchestral arrangements bookending the album certainly get you in the mindset that you're listening to something special, and while the Snoop Dogg serves as a pleasant enough introduction, it really doesn't work as a song in it's own right. Indeed, while White Flag and Rhinestone Eyes are also fine listens (although White Flag's wonderful drum intro isn't carried through the rest of the track, which is a shame) both seem to be grasping for something they don't quite reach, and it isn't until the lead single 'Stylo' kicks in that the album hits a stride.

And what a stride. From here until pretty much it's end, 'Plastic Beach' is a pop-electro-hip-hop mish-mash slice of sunny perfection. 'Superfast Jellyfish', with it's delightful head-shaking at fast food, screams for it's own single release, and at less than three minutes you wish it were twice as long. 'Empire Ants' is an expansive ballad that you can just imagine listening to while lounging on a beach (then getting up and dancing when it changes tack halfway through). Mark E. Smith and Lou Reed make croaky, sinister appearances on 'Glitter Freeze' and 'Some Kind of Nature' respectively, yet still retaining that cheerful, cheesy 'plastic-y'-ness that underlines the whole alubum's tone.

'On Melancholy Hill' and 'Broken' we hear Gorillaz alone, and despite the name, 'Melancholy Hill' is quite an upbeat number, thanks to the synthesised steel drum melding perfectly with Albarn's (sorry, 2D's) vocals. 'Broken' is where it falters slightly: unobtrusive and listenable enough, but in essence sounds like what a Blur b-side may have sounded like were they around in the 80s. But it picks it right back up in 'Sweepstakes', a deliberately messy hip-hop epic that steadily swells into something quite special.

From hear on in the album winds down, beginning with the title track, 'Plastic Beach', which in it's short-time frame perfectly sums up the feel and texture of the album, like the meeting point between a beach and a styrofoam-strewn landfill. But 'To Binge', whilst it sounds pure bliss, the slightly unsettling lyrics betray a darker undertone. 'Cloud of Unknowing' sees Bobby Womack take a welcome encore on the album as he croons while the orchestra returns for it's ending. It's an absolutely beautiful song, seeing Gorillaz at their most graceful. 'Pirate Jets' sounds exactly what you'd think it will sound like judging by the title, and whilst on first listen it doesn't sound like a great outro, several listens later it unpeels itself, not least by 2D's words that 'Because we left the taps/running/for a hundred years/so drink into the drink.'

Which pretty much sums up 'Plastic Beach' as a whole; to make-do with the situation we're in, instead of lamenting a paradise that never was. Whilst it is doubtlessly heavy with eco-minded thoughts, it is surprisingly optimisitic in it's outlook. Just as the actual Plastic Island is made of plastics, papers and throwaways, the album contains few (if any) organic instruments, and is littered with synthetic and electronic substitutes, so whilst it sounds claustrophobic, recycled and "dirty", it's full of chirpiness and hope, because it is standing up as saying that you can make something out of nothing. And not just that, something, very, very good indeed.

Because more than anything, 'Plastic Beach' is a fantastic album in it's own right, the finest slice of pop for a long time, and once it's finished, you'll start it all over again, just so you can stay in the reconstituted paradise just a bit longer.
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VINE VOICEon 29 June 2010
Sometimes you buy an album for that great song you have heard and you love to hear it and there are a few other good tracks on the album but you keep listening and it loses its interest. Here Gorillaz have created something that improves over time. I bought it on the day it was released, listened to it once and thought - hmm well the other albums were much better. There is no Clint Eastwood or Feel Good Inc, there is no stand out song and too much rap.

Then I saw them at Glastonbury and a few songs shone through - White Flag and Glitter Freeze so I went back to listen again. Then I realised I had been missing out on something special Superfast Jellyfish, Rhinestone Eyes ... The Gorillaz still have it whatever it is. How can you describe a group that one second uses Brass, then mass strings and a Lebanese Orchestra while mixing it with rap and synth? Crazy and amazing fusion.
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Love him or hate him you've still got to admire
Damon Albarn! 'Plastic Beach' is a huge treat!!

Much of its magic arises from the ambiguity of
its narrative content and the rich diversity of its
musical ideas. Gorillaz are (is?) a kind of sonic
sponge, unafraid to soak up, digest, assimilate and
regurgitate anything which crosses their (its?) path.

Despite the unlikely forces which have come together
to give life to this extraordinary project there is a
wonderful logic and coherence in the finished article.

Lou Reed's iconic drawl on the blissfully bouncy
'Some Kind Of Nature'; Mark E Smith's bolshy demonic
evangelist on the rip-roaring boogie 'Glitter Freeze';
Mos Def and Bobby Womack raising the temperature together
on the slick and soulful 'Stylo'; crikey, there's even
Mick Jones and Paul Simonon doing a turn on the title track!

There are some truly beautiful songs here too.
'Empire Ants', a collaboration with Swedish electronic
band Little Dragon and co-written with their singer
Yukimi Nagano, is a stunning arrangement, full of limpid
harmonies and gently flowing instrumental delights.
It is a sublime confection!

They pitch up together again on 'Binge', a lovely
loping piece which would not have sounded out of
place in a 1960's movie like Cliff Richard's
'Summer Holiday'. I'm not kidding! It's a hoot!!

So many riches rolling out one after the other,
I was completely swept away by its genre-defying lack
of conformity. Uplifting and anarchic in equal measure.

A Little Masterpiece.

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on 19 January 2013
Shame they have parted company with each other because i simply love the fusion of rap with techno and other styles....its a real combination, clever and thoughtful and the beats are great. Its down to earth yet intellectual too. Not too noisy yet noisy enough. But i am biased cos i like them too much.
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on 18 October 2015
One of my favourite gorillaz albums!
Quite different from some of their other work but I find it very nice for just easy listening and to have on in the background while I draw. As always with Gorillaz, there's a nice mixture of songs and styles so that you don't feel like you're listening to the same song over and over (unlike other artists). I love it but everyone has different tastes, so I would recommend listening to some of it on youtube!
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