tue 28/06/2022

CD: Gorillaz - The Fall | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Gorillaz - The Fall

CD: Gorillaz - The Fall

It's slipped out under the radar but showcases Damon Albarn at his best

Record Store Day this Saturday, 16 April, will give vinyl a small boost. Many artists are creating special limited editions. Bands love all that. It reminds them of when people cared about music as more than "content". The Fall was originally available as a Gorllaz fan-club download last December and will be available on CD imminently but king Gorilla, Damon Albarn, wanted it first and foremost as celebratory Record Store Day vinyl - which is how I'm listening to it.

While the format is retro, paradoxically The Fall was recorded primarily on iPad during Gorillaz' 2010 US tour and the inner sleeve - INNER SLEEVE! - lists all the Apps used in its creation. The special guests that usually pile onto Gorillaz albums are almost entirely absent, with the exception of Bobby Womack who pops up for the delicious acoustic soul of "Bobby in Phoenix". Being a cartoon supergroup, the idea is their fourth album is the pet project of blank-eyed member 2D, but the whole concept is rendered slightly redundant because it's clearly the sound of Albarn filtering America through the isolating prism of hotel rooms at night, right down to the titles - "Phoner to Arizona", "Aspen Forest", "Hillbilly Man" and so on.

It's full of low-slung electronic grooves but never noodles off into experimental abstraction. Albarn always ties his sci-fi sounds into tunes and he's a lethal songwriter. Whether developing a country waltz on "The Parish of Space Dust", gunning up haunted ballads such as "Amarillo" and "California and the Slipping of the Sun", or relaxing with Moog-centric easy listening on "Detroit", there's always a welcoming balance of stark electronics with warm melody. Gorillaz' previous albums, while brilliantly imaginative and full of great songs, have sometimes lacked cohesiveness. The Fall doesn't and, despite its comparatively low-profile appearance, is the equal of anything they've done.

Watch the video for "Phoner to Arizona"

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