Album in Depth: The Fall by Gorillaz


Hi, I’m JotaKa. I’m a rocker by birth and grew listening to rock discs and long plays by the dozen. So, as I showed to everyone in existence, I can’t keep a schedule. I scheduled April to be an Internet Soundtrack Month but after a buttload of tests, a starting of a relationship (kind of, it started at the beginning of the year, actually) and, well, overall work I finally got some free time (I am currently with a fever of 38º Celsius, if you live somewhere that don’t use the metric system, it’s a tricky math, but it isn’t impossible). As it is no longer April, I can’t really fake it, so let’s move on and let’s matters die. Of course the fact that I bought a Justin Bieber album specifically to do that one will render some pretty hilarious times in the future, I suppose.The reason I decided to do this one is also because I need a tap on the shoulder once in a while, so I’m on my quest to review all of Gorillaz albums! Since last year I reviewed two of them (Demon Days
and Plastic Beach), if I finish this one and the debut album, Gorillaz will be all looked upon. Wipee! The other reason far less important is that this album is completely listenable on http://thefall.gorillaz.com. I had some problems making it work, but it did, and since I did this review on my laptop on a place where I did not have an internet connection, I downloaded it and it worked fine. Even with that being said, I want to have a physical release of this album in contrast to a digital one, because even though they don’t have great ideas always, they have them more times than a hell lot of other people.

I’m not going to say the story of Gorillaz since I already covered it up on the Demon Days review, but this one has to be listened with a warning: these fifteen tracks were recorded with an iPad and on a tour and has less personnel than the last album (it couldn’t add anyone else, I think that everyone ever was doing a contribution on plastic beach) but still has some additions here and there.

Since I don’t have the physical thing, I can’t really analyse the cover on quality and stuff like that, but as I can see through the scan they provided next to the songs, it’s a close up of 2D recording. Even though I believe that it is better than the Plastic Beach cover, it still falls short, unless the chronology of this one suggests that 2D made all of it by himself, in that case, it is a pretty strong image and a nifty cover. The album’s running time is 41:20 with the longest one being the intro track with 4:14 and the shortest one being the closing track with 0:38. Pretty decent running tracks, I should say, but since this is a digital download, it could have a little bit more. The overall critics and reviews of this album already suggest that it is a good experience and a great album; however, it still gets scores just above average. Strange. So, let’s get this over with: The Fall by Gorillaz.

1st track: “Phoner to Arizona” – This song sounds like it comes from nightmares: not because it’s creepy, but because it’s boring and I hate boring songs. As it appears, the whole motif will be electronic stuff with nothing trying to hide that fact. The “intro” is a boring repetition of electronic sounds and it repeats itself the entire time the songs runs, becoming also an outro. The only difference mid song is a strange modified voice (at least I think that’s what it is) but it is completely incomprehensible, if, again, it is vocal, it may be just another electronic sound. So far, off to a bad start.

2nd track: “Revolving Doors” – Strangely enough, the songs connect, which is awkward in my opinion for a downloadable album. The song starts somewhat enjoyable with the first lyrics of the album sung by 2D (with the same feel as previous instalments, shall I say) and a pretty cool type of ukulele playing with the singing. However, at midpoint there is some strange effects and instrumentation and even though this is a great track, I would have preferred it without it.

3rd track: “Hillbilly Man” – The start is really soothing and promises a great song, with some inspired vocals and a Bossa Nova feel to it. However on the one minute mark the electronic fanfare starts and approximately on the second minute mark the song goes horribly wrong to the point of being unbearable for some seconds, going back to normal. The effect that they wanted is just awful and he keeps using it like a great achievement: maybe fans of the style like it, I didn’t, and I enjoy Gorillaz.

4th track: “Detroit” – This song sounds really like something Daft Punk would do, like Veridis Quo. It starts with just a short sample being repeated over and over and over to the end of the song with a cute electronic sort of strange cutesy instrument (an electronic harp or xylophone came to mind, don’t know why) playing over it making the song pretty enjoyable, even though the background song for the cutesy instrument is really really really really obnoxious: it sounds like the device you are using to hear it broke down. The song is short but memorable, and I’ll hum this tune forever. Even with the addition of a bass instrument it still remains really enjoyable.

5th track: “Shy-town” – This one is simply boring and unnecessarily psychedelic. With the singing on the back plan and the electronic shit festival being the foreground, this track is completely forgettable. It was appointed by some reviewers that this album really feels like a trip with the moving around theme but for me, it really sounds stale and slow.

6th track: “Little Pink Plastic Bags” – What an uneasy song. Not saying it’s good, it’s bad AND creepy. The lyrics, for what I could gather, talk about little pink plastic bags on the road. But it sounds as a broken Blue Jay Way. Even when the song tries to get different with a high pitched sort of keyboard I guess, it still gets off bad and creepy. It is a bad and creepy song.

7th track: “The Joplin Spider” – Obviously, I’m not expecting to hear Janis Joplin even though that’s what the track is kind of alluding, I’m going to hear boring and incredibly annoying… noise. It’s not even a song anymore; it’s just noise, bad noise at that. It starts promising to be psychedelic but it becomes just cacophony and even as the singing starts, the song doesn’t get any better. It’s so annoying, this song is just annoying: annoyance in “song” format. And the worst part is that I can see what they tried to do but they failed miserably.

8th track: “The Parish of Space Dust” – Oh, good, one of those songs that start with a shifting of radio stations featuring songs that I would much prefer to be listening than probably the one I am. The song is mostly radio gibberish over more electronic noise, with the chorus being sung by 2D, and even though it is really uninspired and dull sometimes… it’s not bad. It is not a bad song. I mean: not a great one either, but… it’s not a bad song. I found myself really enjoying this one, and I’m not sure why.

9th track: “The Snake in Dallas” – Oh, my god, this song is so unnecessary. It’s just the same sample of noise with some minor variances being repeated over and over and over to the end of the song, with a somewhat interesting kind of brass instrumentation near the end, which does not make the song any greater. Just doesn’t do it.

10th track: “Amarillo” – Albeit depressing, this is probably the best track so far. Embodying the most Gorillaz aspect of… well, Gorillaz, this song really sounds like one of the slow songs of prior albums, but did in a more interesting way. Of course, the electronic noise still bugs the crap out of me, but at least this song is what I was waiting for: gorillaz with electronics, not… just electronics.

11th track: “The Speak It Mountains” – It starts with 40 seconds of gibberish and for one second I thought that it would be an entire song a capella When the voices shut up, the song gets pretty enjoyable, which is painful to know, because if this song was the entire track, it would be listenable, but to get this far, you have to listen to the crap at the start and the rain effects at the end of it. Wasted song.

12th track: “Aspen Forest” – Another song that it’s somewhat enjoyable. Even though it presents shitty electronics, there is a great piano feel to it on top of it and though it doesn’t sound anything like anything Gorillaz related, it would be a great soothing song to listen on the go: this is the first track that I can hear what they were aiming for, which is the travelling sensation, the trip across the US feeling. This song works.

13th track: “Bobby in Phoenix” – I don’t know if it’s the intention or whatever, but this song is the Wish You Were Here (track, not album) of the entire Gorillaz discography. The entire melody is almost alike, with some progressive usage of synthesizer (I believe I can pinpoint the Melotron, but I may be wrong). Don’t get me wrong: this song is awesome. The only downer is that it is sung by Bobby Womack from earlier Gorillaz songs and The Valentino’s fame, which I don’t believe sings badly, I just would prefer the stylized singing of 2D over this one on a Gorillaz album. But the song works greatly even with that, as it is a personal preference of mine.

14th track: “California & The Slipping of the Sun” – Confusing trying to be progressive and electronic and failing at least on the prog part. I mean, I don’t think this song is audible. Maybe, sorry if I’m generalizing, but it’s a song for a rehab of people that used to do ecstasy, with a soft relaxing tune that has an electronic beat to it. With some strange talked vocals (not rapping), little to no singing vocals at all and some strange sounds and noises, this song is not good enough for anything.

15th track: “Seattle Yodel” – It’s a yodel. Seriously. It’s just a yodel. If you enjoy yodels… you will probably not like this song. It’s a 38 seconds yodel. And the shortest I’ve ever said about a song.

So, how does it all hold up? Frankly, not so well. Even though it has some good songs mixed into it and no rapping whatsoever, for me a positive point, it’s to electronic for my taste. It has 6 enjoyable tracks in the middle that should be checked, but overall, it was bland and not inventive enough, maybe because it was a short project of them. But none the less, since you can listen it for free, enjoy yourselves and have your own opinion on it. Maybe I’m dead wrong in some of these, and you have to point them out.

This is JotaKa, signing off.

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