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Music Review: Gorillaz return with island-themed CD

Published:Saturday | March 13, 2010 | 12:00 AM

After five silent years, the 2-D virtual ensemble giants, Gorillaz, are back.

Following 2005's Demon Days, they return, and get nautical, with an ambitious, island-themed third effort, Plastic Beach. It is a smooth ride through a variety of sonic canals, from pop to soul to electronica. Signature Gorillaz can be found on mellow tracks like Rhinestone Eyes, which boasts electronic gurgles, and the mellifluous, low vocals of semi-anonymous front man Damon Albarn, formerly of Blur.

However, there is some unexpected spice added to this island cocktail by a legion of guest artistes, such as Snoop Dogg, De La Soul and Bobby Womack. Mos Def dishes up a fresh flow for the electrocentric anthem Stylo, combining elements of techno and soul. Even Lou Reed finds his tech-voice, flanked by drum machines and pro-tooled squeals, on the uptempo, piano chord-tinged Some Kind of Nature. It is pop-fusion of the highest order, but nothing especially new.

While Gorillaz are not exactly occupying exotic territory on Plastic Beach, at least the ride is enjoyable.

CHECK THIS TRACK OUT:

Consisting of teeth-grinding screeches, Morse Code and the semiconscious vocals of The Falls' Mark E. Smith, Glitter Freeze somehow distorts cacophony into an ear-pleasing arrangement. It is the sonic equivalent of liking the smell of gasolene: generally noxious, but somewhat delightful.

- AP