By Angela Bacca
The Gorillaz’s Plastic Beach is not so much a typical album as the soundtrack to a post-modern dystopia of the future. In the opening track of the album “Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach,” Snoop Dogg sits on the orange-skyed polluted beach, blunt in mouth and snifter of Hennessy in hand, to gather the future child inhabitants of the island around him for history lesson. “Kids gather round/ I need your focus/ I know it seems like the world is so hopeless…” he opens.
The Gorillaz layer electric-pop rhythms with video game beats, to create bouncy dance tunes with a social conscious. The album’s theme is based loosely in reality, bending perception in a virtual reality in the form of an online video game. In Gorillaz’ fashion, there is an eclectic group of contributors– from Bobby Womack, Mos Def, Little Dragon, to Lou Reed– to muse on what life in the future will be like on the Texas-sized trash-plastic island floating in the Pacific Ocean.
Arguably the best track on album to play at loud volume is “White Flag,” The Lebanese Orchestra for Oriental Arabic Music winds its way through the plastic beach, setting the scene for London grime rappers Kano and Bashy to lay down the law of the land, “No war/No guns/ No corps/ Just life… Look respect the island, no stealing/ And don’t bring religion here, no three kings”.
In the single “Superfast Jellyfish,” Gruffy Rhys and De la Soul ask the listener to reminisce on the post-consumer world that brought life to the island, a world of microwave dinners, and chemical pre-wrapped food, and asks to a hip-hop-television “was it worth it?” On “Broken,” Gorillaz front man David Albarn answers bluntly “no, ”asking that we evaluate our part in his future premonition, “It’s by the light of the plasma screens/ we keep switched on all through the night as we sleep.”
Plastic Beach is a true concept album—one you can dance to at a club or bob your head to while playing the “Escape to Plastic Beach” video game at Gorrilaz.com.