The Good, The Bad & The Queen – Merrie Land review

It has been 11 years since the last album by The Good, The Bad & The Queen, and a lot has changed since then. Thankfully TGTB&TQ have not, and are as on the ball as they were back in 2007. 

Title track and opener ‘Merrie Land’ sets a haunting scene of a picturesque but broken Britain that is worth fighting for while at the same time asking if it’s worth the bother, with Albarn sounding already defeated.  ‘Gun To The Head’ is an album highlight for me, sounding like Parklife-era Blur mixed with Madness with its chanty chorus and oompa beat, but the melancholy undertone is still present despite the upbeat brass. 

‘The Last Man To Leave’ is one of the most inventive, intense and simply brilliant tracks on the album, and that Damon has ever done; Damon’s vocals sounding like a crazed preacher shouting about not wanting to leave and ‘liking the bed we’ve made to lie in’ while still carrying real, heartbreaking emotion.

The whole album plays out like a sad but hopeful love letter to the UK. The lyrics to ‘Nineteen Seventeen’ perhaps most directly hint at Brexit woes; ‘I see myself moving backwards in time today from a place we can’t remain … My heart is heavy because it looks just like my home.’ with other tracks referring to lines on maps and Windrush.

While this may seem a bit too in your face and preachy when written down, rest assured the whole project has that beautiful sad echo throughout it that only Damon at his best can bring, with his truly great songwriting helped come to life even further by the stellar line-up of Paul Simonon on Bass, Tony Allen on Drums and Simon Tong on guitar.

A few songs do sound very similar to each other and a bit one-note, with ‘The Great Fire’ being a bit of a low point for me, but these tracks are in the minority and the album still flows fairly well.

The themes in this album will hit home for those in the UK at the moment, but the messages of drifting apart and regret leave a lot to the imagination, and the meticulously crafted songs can be enjoyed by anyone. This is the perfect album for 2018.

98%

Advertisements

Track Review: The Good, The Bad & The Queen – Merrie Land

Another project from the man who never stops making music, Damon Albarn, is on the Horizon, with the second The Good, The Bad & The Queen releasing in November. ‘Merrie Land’ is the title track, and the first new music from the group since 2007.

Sounding halfway between early Blur and The Magic Whip, this first glimpse of the album is a very promising one. Melancholy lyrics about the state of post-brexit UK set to a carnival-esque instrumental. No idea how he had the time to make something this good whilst being on tour non-stop for the past few years.

The Good, The Bad & The Queen have been gone a long while, but they came back at the right time.

90%

You can pre-order Merrie Land here.

They have some upcoming UK dates in December, on sale Friday:

Dec 1st – The North Pier, Blackpool
https://www.seetickets.com/event/the-good-the-bad-the-queen/north-pier/1272677
Dec 2nd – SWG3, Glasgow
http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/event/3600554FD1925A60
Dec 4th – Hackney Arts Centre, London
https://www.seetickets.com/event/the-good-the-bad-the-queen/earth-hackney-arts-centre-/1272679
Dec 5th – Hackney Arts Centre, London
https://www.seetickets.com/event/the-good-the-bad-the-queen/earth-hackney-arts-centre-/1272681
Dec 6th – Hackney Arts Centre, London
https://www.seetickets.com/event/the-good-the-bad-the-queen/earth-hackney-arts-centre-/1272682

Gorillaz – The Now Now Review

I was quite worried when I heard that a new Gorillaz album would be coming so soon after the last, with the collab-heavy Humanz being released just over a year ago in April 2017. There was no need to worry.

A lot has changed since 2017 in the world of Gorillaz, with Murdoc currently in Jail and temporarily replaced by Ace, ex-traumatiser of the Powerpuff Girls. This has left 2D in charge of the music, and with the album we have got out of it I wouldn’t rush to free Murdoc.

Opening track and lead single Humility is a lovely, bouncy, summery song that features George Benson and is very catchy indeed; the song’s slick, shimmery production continues throughout the album and the quality of the tracks is consistently brilliant.

Second track Tranz is an album highlight, a complete contrast to the breezy Humility, it is a dark, groovy synth track that shows how varied and interesting a Gorillaz project can be without the need for an onslaught of features.  Hollywood is another groovy cut, featuring Humanz staple Jamie Principle and a great verse from Snoop that elevates the track. The half spoken/sung chorus really works well with the instrumental here as it’s not too over the top.

Another highlight on the album for me is Idaho. A country ballad of sorts, the track sounds amazingly peaceful and grand without being at all bland, being very simple on the surface, but with each listen you notice another little layer there.

Usually i’m not a fan of instrumental tracks, especially in an album context. Lake Zurich is just too much of a bop to ignore though, and instantly becoming one of the most memorable songs off the album.

The album closes with a trio of slower songs, each managing to sound different to the next, with One Percent sounding like a sad distress call from space and Souk Eye’s slow fade out xylophone giving me the feeling of the end of a great movie or gig that you don’t want to end.

This is the best Damon project since 2010’s Plastic Beach, and he has massively topped Humanz, which while I still enjoyed really doesn’t compare much to this.

96%

Best Three: Tranz, Idaho, Souk Eye

Kali Uchis – Isolation Review

While the debut album from Colombia-American artist Kali Uchis boasts many impressive features from the likes of Tyler The Creator, Damon Albarn & Jorja Smith, it’s Kali’s vision that shines through.

The singles leading up to the album’s release, like ‘After The Storm’ and ‘Tyrant’ were all brilliant, with each of them having distinct different vibes while still showcasing Kali’s charm. This quality and variety carries through the whole project.

Standout tracks like the irresistibly groovy ‘Your Teeth In My Neck’ and the upbeat Gorillaz-esque ‘In My Dreams’ further showcase her incredible songwriting ability and just how good a performer she is.

Yet another effortless genre-hop comes in the form of the Tame Impala collab ‘Tomorrow’. There isn’t a single track that feels forced or out of place on in the tracklist. Every feature actually adds something to their track rather than just being there for the sake of it.

This debut album proves that Kali is here to stay, and we should all just embrace it.

96%