The Gorillaz are back with little rest, and why would they need any? They are cartoon characters, right? When listening to them you always know just what to expect….. a lot! With “Plastic Beach” still warm on the stove top Damon has released the follow-up without wasting any time.

The album opens with “Phoner to Arizona” which is close to my least favourite Gorillaz’ song. Well after the first few listens it was. It appeared to be just a combination of electronic noises without any vocal or direction. There is an odd vocal type noise which doesn’t work so well for me later in the song. The track does grow after a few listens however it feels like it drags as it takes it time developing into something meaningful.

Comparatively speaking “Revolving Doors” pulls on the hand brake and does a one-eighty spin back in the right direction. That familiar vocal of “Stuart” is reinstated over a bold acoustic sound crossed with electronic beats to quite dramatic effect. “Hillbilly Man” continues with a soft introduction which grows as the song morphs into a quite odd beast. This album is obviously taking steps to challenge the listener more than previous albums, which were  a little safer. The backing vocal is a little on the nose and there is a lot happening towards the end of the song and I am not so sure that it is comes together. It’s a worthy track which challenges the listener.

“Detroit” seems to be written specifically for someone who is not me. It is short and sharp and is not written to be listened to when driving to work half asleep at 6am. The extremely repetitive beat to the song can get a little grinding however the other aspects of the song are quite enjoyable which gives this track real love-hate quality.  “Shytown” brings the album back towards traditional Gorillaz framework. The song is well constructed being quite relaxed and “un-rushed” which induces a celestial feel to the sound.

The term “outer space” seems to have lost its meaning since the 70s and 80s and “Little Plastic Bags” does its best to renew the meaning of the term. There is a real feeling sense of being lost when listening to this album and no song sums up the sentiment more that this one. But, then you get to “The Joplin Spider” which is a musical reenactment of a Star Wars battle with vocal accompaniment. “The Parish of Space Dust” moves into a more post-apocalyptic vein with dark tones through the vocal contrasting against an up-beat melody and background radio reporting which flows into “The Snake in Dallas” which with “Amarillo” continue to timeless/spaceless feeling of the album which is quite haunting in parts and is achieved in part by using a lot of short tracks.

The back end continues to flow with a similar tone with out any greatly noticeable high or low-lights to mention. “Bobby in Phoenix” is probably one of the more forgettable tracks. If there is anything to fault this album by its that there is not too much variation in song structure or tone of the lead vocal.

The album feels like Damon just wanted a low-key release with some more experimental ideas. This is light on the big pop tracks that have dominated the past three albums, but is still true to that familiar Gorillaz sound. There is a sense of a concept album which tells a story of being lost in deep space and the songs seem to hold each other up. On their own they are a little confusing and lack substance at time, but as a whole they become “The Fall” which is aptly named and tell a story full of emotion and fear. Electronic samples and random talk or chatter are used to good effect to deliver on this vibe. Some of the tracks achieve this feat better than others but as a whole the album will probably be overlooked by some, while taking others on a musical journey.

ALBUM RATING: An insight into how it would feel to be lost in space