Twelve years ago, Blur frontman Damon Albarn and Tank Girl creator Jamie Hewlett formed Gorillaz — a ”virtual band” whose animated avatars and woozy beats pastiche seemed custom-fit for a dawning era of smartphones, iPods, and other Jetson-y gizmos.
”I’m useless, but not for long / The future is comin’ on,” Albarn drawled on their first single, the dubby alt-chart hit ”Clint Eastwood.”
He was right: Gorillaz’ self-titled debut sold
almost 2 million copies in the U.S. and made them stars, albeit in physical absentia (even in live performances, they are hidden behind
giant cartoon projections). A half decade after their last release, 2005′s multiplatinum sophomore outing Demon Days, the band has returned, once again gilding their four-character core with a delightfully random roster of guest stars: Snoop Dogg, legendary soul smoothie Bobby Womack, Lou Reed, and the Clash’s Mick Jones among them.
Like its name, Plastic Beach has a sharp tang of cognitive dissonance — its songs sound like dispatches from a crew of hip-kid astronauts, unmoored in some space-dust ether.