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The Fall


May 20, 2011 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Gorillaz’ latest album, The Fall, was recorded on an iPad. Sounds gimmicky? It probably is. Damon Albarn, after all, has never embraced subtlety, whether in his swaggering work as the frontman of Blur or on his own, staging Chinese operas. He’s also done the DIY recording shtick before, on 2003’s Democrazy, which he taped in hotel rooms while on the road.

The Fall, which Albarn recorded on said Apple device as Gorillaz’ tour bus rolled through America on their fall 2010 tour, aims to channel all that geography into music, with songs loosely based around different cities. Less an album and more a mishmash of interludes, it was originally released as a fan-club only download. Given the usual fanfare surrounding a Gorillaz album release, it’s possible this off-the-cuff release is just the latest stunt for Albarn—who once planned to do an entire world tour using holographs—and his cast of impish cartoon characters.

As with previous Gorillaz albums, there’s a smattering of guest stars here, such as soul great Bobby Womack on “Bobby in Phoenix” and The Clash’s Mick Jones, who pops up for the subtle electronic pulse of “Hillbilly Man.” But whereas Gorillaz’s Demon Days and Plastic Beach were sprawling opuses of spaced-out dance floor dirges, The Fall is a subdued affair, brooding and mellow, as if the band’s famous cartoon effigies have been plied with Xanax.

There are a few highlights: “Revolving Doors” is a wistful plink of a single, and “Detroit” veers into traditional Gorillaz 4/4 beats. “The Parish of Space Dust” toasts Texas in swinging Southern waltz style. But overall, the album is weighed down with too much musical haze and too many bland melodies. When the fog does break, it’s often to showcase something bizarre, such as “Seattle Yodel,” which is merely a 30-second clip of yodeling (you can just picture Albarn filing the track, thinking, “why not?” as he switched over to play Angry Birds).

The sluggish vibe on The Fall was obviously part of Albarn’s intention in creating a meandering sonic travelogue, but you end up wishing he’d pressed the gas pedal a little harder. (

Author rating: 5/10

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