Pasatiempo - - Pasa Tempos -

Plas­tic Beach (Vir­gin Records) When you thumb through the di­verse ros­ter of artists who con­trib­uted to Plas­tic Beach — in­clud­ing Snoop Dogg, Mos Def, Bobby Wo­mack, De La Soul, and Lou Reed — you prob­a­bly wouldn’t guess that it’s one of the most co­he­sive, fully re­al­ized pop al­bums in years. Or maybe you would, if you’ve fol­lowed Da­mon Al­barn’s (among oth­ers) Go­ril­laz work all along. Orig­i­nally con­ceived as a “su­per­group” of mu­si­cians and vis­ual artists hid­ing be­hind the fa­cade of a car­toon band, Go­ril­laz has al­ways pre­sented an un­wa­ver­ing vi­sion of top­i­cal themes, lively beats, and me­lan­choly melodies. It’s a fic­tional band that asks, “What is real?” and sings about the apoca­lypse in the present tense. Af­ter Snoop’s Ge­orge Clin­ton-like in­tro, you’ll fas­ten your seat belts, cause it’s go­ing to be a bumpin’ ride. Nearly ev­ery song is a high­light, but I es­pe­cially like “Me­lan­choly Hill” (which re­calls the Bea­tles’ “And Your Bird Can Sing” and Leonard Co­hen’s “I Can’t For­get” — not too shabby!) and Reed’s wry, world­weary read­ing on “Some Kind of Na­ture.” “White Flag” is the kind of song that only the Go­ril­laz can do well, find­ing the cross­roads be­tween Tchaikovsky and Buju Ban­ton with a phe­nom­e­nal string sec­tion and dance­hall rid­dims. Plas­tic Beach is a big hit right now, and de­servedly so: pop mu­sic should al­ways be this ad­ven­tur­ous.

— Robert Ben­ziker

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