Gorillaz – The Fall album review

“Finally someone let me out of my cage, now time for me is nothing cuz’ I’m counting no age.” Introduced to Gorillaz during my junior high school years I have enjoyed seeing their progression from their self-titled album to their latest, The Fall. What originally had me hooked to this group was its Alternative Hip-hop feel as it went through songs such as “Clint Eastwood” and “Rock the House,” both of them featuring the amazing flow of Del tha Funkee Homosapien. You also had classics like “19-2000” that left you wondering what exactly was the catchy saying Noodle was singing during the chorus.

Following their self-titled album Gorillaz released Demon Days and Plastic Beach. Demon Days saw Gorillaz’s creator, Damon Albarn, working with an even wider range of artists. Throw in production with Danger Mouse (of Gnarls Barkley fame) and you have songs that still remain in the vein of Gorillaz’s trademark sound. “Feel Good Inc.,” “Dare” and “Kids With Guns” showed that Albarn still had some tricks up his sleeve.

Plastic Beach showed Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, the other half of the Gorillaz, moving into a new direction with their group, both musically and artistically. Calling it his “most pop record” ever made Albarn not only moved the Gorillaz’s sound in a new direction, but incorporated many eclectic artists into the mix as well. Moving into a more electronica and techno feel Plastic Beach showed Albarn growing as a composer, working with people such as Mos Def, Snoop Dogg and Bobby Womack.

In The Fall you still get remnants of Gorillaz’s sound, but do not expect this album to be like past ones. Created entirely on Albarn’s Apple iPad this album follows in the vein of what has made most Gorillaz’s albums successful: its unique qualities and experimental nature. In a first listen you are not as captivated as you would be with their past albums, but giving it a second listen you will be able to appreciate Albarn’s creativity.

“Phoner to Arizona” begins with a heavy synthesizer part, followed by other additions. It is an instrumental track, but the feel and sound of it will not leave you skeptical; you will know you are listening to a Gorillaz album.

“Detroit” begins in a way that lends itself to Gorillaz’s Demon Days period. The synthesizer part in the beginning and additional instrumental parts will bring to mind “Dare,” minus vocals.

“The Joplin Spider” implements sounds from both Demon Days and Plastic Beach with its electronica-like feel contrasting against an eerie and ominous keyboard part. Add chopped, monotone vocals from Albarn and iPad noise that must be directly inspired by some M.I.A. song and you have something that is hauntingly amazing.

“Amarillo” is a soothing and dreamy track that is made even better by Albarn’s vocals. The song works like a ballad as it contributes to the album’s overall gentle mood.

“Bobby in Phoenix” is definitely a highlight on this album. Featuring Bobby Womack the song is backed by acoustic guitars and keyboard sounds, with Bobby’s soulful and tender voice flowing throughout the track.

“California & the Slipping of the Sun” begins with a station announcer, followed by gentle guitar plucking and the dream-like vocals of Albarn. Building up to a combination of dance, synth bass and vocal snippets this track is not as significant as the other ones listed, but definitely shows the more experimental side of the album.

To expect The Fall to be like past albums is not suggested. This album shows a much more creative side of Albarn that may grow with future Gorillaz records. Recorded during the American leg of the Escape to Plastic Beach World Tour it is obvious how passing landscapes through tour buses and planes have contributed to the overall sound and mood of The Fall. Stripping away the guest appearances and the usual additions that make us enjoy Gorillaz so much, and giving us a sound that is more natural, experimental and reflective, definitely makes this one of Albarn’s most ambitious records yet. Each song may not be as captivating as past Gorillaz’s songs, but it is Albarn’s untraditional approach and untraditional tracks on The Fall that show that Albarn not only runs with an idea, but he can do a damn good job at it too.

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