, the latest "album" by Damon Alburn's shape-shifting Gorillaz project, was recorded entirely on an iPad and released for free. That in itself might discredit its value for some fans, but it shouldn't; recalling a time before the fanfare of guest rappers and vocalists, Gorillaz is at its very core, an electro-carnival, hosted by Albarn's iconic voice. The Fall
is just that (and nothing else), and it is reminiscent of the first self-titled album and everything that helped the world fall in love with these cartoon characters in the first place.
Sure, The Fall
is a mishmashed jumble of a sketchbook, but it reads better than the finished product of most amateur artists. Sure, some of the back tracks, including opener "Phoner To Arizona", aren't exactly pushing the envelope, but the light dusting of quirk that comes with Albarn's work always seems to manifest and consume when you least expect it, whether through a vocal modification, or his own instantly recognizable voice (as the character 2D, or himself, depending on how you look at it). "Revolving Doors" is instantly gratifying in this way, allowing a much more old-school beat and refrain to soundtrack Albarn's voice, sans the fluff of other voices vying for control. It's all fairly simple, which is something almost never associated with Gorillaz anymore. For those who miss the easy rawness of "Tomorrow Comes Today", and dislike Snoop Dogg cameos, here is your gift for the New Year (are my cards showing?). Bobby Womack and others make appearances, but it's never at the expense of letting Albarn do most of the talking in this forty minutes. It's kind of nice to have him front and center.
Although individually the tracks pop, there isn't much to grab on to in terms of cohesion. While Gorillaz has become more and more conceptual/story-based in their execution (see Plastic Beach
), The Fall
features no such discernible narrative, maybe for the better. By reverting to the simplicity of making beats and letting his ideas free-flow in a sort of stream-of-conscious kind of procedure, Alburn maps out his artistic drawing board in a way we've never seen it. And that's how The Fall
, an after-thought in the Gorillaz lexicon, got me more interested than I've been since 2005. -joe puglisi
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Gorillaz on Myspace