There are few groups around now that you can say this about, but the release of a new Gorillaz album is definitely an "event". You could buy individual tracks, just handpicking the singles and standouts, but you'd miss out on a great audio experience. Each of the two other albums worked perfectly as a whole, so I wasn't going to do anything other than buy the album and listen to it all the way through - and I did so several times before writing this review.
This is a themed album, which gets across an environmental message in such a way that doesn't feel preachy, and when you only consider the individual songs it is subtle, but the cumulative effect of listening to a whole album full of "look, there's plastic everywhere" isn't subtle, and it can get annoying. The good thing is that there are several great tracks on this record. Pity then that it starts with a whole minute of uninspired wash-out "orchestral" music and descends after the tenth track into a mush of forgettable "P-sides" (if you don't get that reference, there were two b-side albums called G-sides for Gorillaz and D-sides for Demon Days). "Sweepstakes" is not one of these - it's a good track, but feels out of place where they put it. It would have been better really if they'd have gone for two separate concept albums on the same CD instead of spinning one idea out across sixteen tracks.
Forget that though. Even though this is the first Gorillaz album I won't continue playing as a whole, it's still got a 70% hit rate for great tunes. There are more guest artists here then even before, yet it works and I don't think I've liked Snoop Dog more than on the first real track "Welcome to the world of...". "Stylo" is laid back funk of the best kind. "Superfast Jellyfish" is mad, good and dangerous not to know - it's the "Dare" of this album in that it's going to be a real breakout track when released as a single. "On Melancholy Hill" is the best purely song driven track on the album. "Glitter Freeze" can't adequately be described, so just listen to it. "Empire Ants" is a Demon Days throwback in the best possible way. There are many great songs here, but the album loses its way too much for me to give it the full five stars I'd give the other two albums.
By: Free Range Chick