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.

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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.

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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

Upcoming! The rest of 2018: A preview.

According to my calendar, it is the end of July. This means that somehow we are over halfway through 2018 already. However! The year is far from over, with many top musical artists set to release an LP before ’18 is up. Let’s have a look at a few, shall we?

August

Ariana Grande – Sweetener (17th)

The follow-up to Ariana’s 2016 banger filled ‘Dangerous Woman’ album is set to release mid-August. With production from Pharrell, features from Missy Elliott and three already released, very good singles, this could be the best pop album of the year.

Spring King – A Better Life (17th)

Following on from their blistering 2016 debut album ‘Tell Me If You Like To’, Spring King will release ‘A Better Life’ in August. Expect the same level of energy as their previous effort but with higher production levels and even more bangers, as shown with lead single ‘Animal’

Animal Collective – Tangerine Reef (17th)

Experimental Americans Animal Collective are releasing an audiovisual album in celebration of the International Year of the Reef on the 17th August. Should be interesting.

Interpol – Marauder (24th)

Returning for their first album in 4 years, New York indie legends Interpol will release Marauder on the 24th August. Lead single ‘The Rover’ is pretty damn good so i’m hopeful that the rest will follow suit.

The Lemon Twigs – Go To School (24th)

The New York Duo are set to release their second album, Go To School in August. They’ve released 2 singles from it so far, with ‘Small Victories’ being a peppy little number, and ‘If You Give Enough’ being a slower, piano based ballad.

Emma Blackery – Villains (31st)

Releasing her debut album in August, Emma Blackery has slowly built up her sound over the years to the refined pop it is today. Recent singles ‘Agenda’ and ‘Icarus’ should be good tasters for what is shaping up to be a very nice 1st effort.

Troye Sivan – Bloom (31st)

Kiwi pop prodigy Troye is set to follow up 2015’s Blue Neighbourhood this August. Lead single ‘My My My!’ was an absolute banger, and recent Ariana Grande collab ‘Dance To This’ was also rather good. Good.

September

Paul McCartney – Egypt Station (7th)

Sir Macca is releasing his first album since 2013’s ‘New’, and the first two singles from it have been very pleasant. You’d think he would have got the hang of this sort of thing by now anyway.

Spiritualized – And Nothing Hurt (7th)

Spiritualized return for their first album in around 6 years, with ‘And Nothing Hurt’ coming out early September. They’ve released a double single to kick this album campaign off, and ‘I’m Your Man’ is very nice indeed.

Pale Waves – My Mind Makes Noises (14th)

Very fast-rising stars of indie-pop Pale Waves are set to release their debut in September. Featuring a few of their recent singles, but mostly new material, this could be one of the buzziest, and best albums of the year.

Christine and The Queens – Chris (21st)

Following up her massive breakthrough debut is a big ask, but the first two singles from ‘Chris’ – ‘Girlfriend’ and ‘Doesn’t Matter’ have been her best work yet, so this could be very special.

Suede – The Blue Hour (21st)

Indie legends Suede follow up their brilliant ‘Night Thoughts’ album with a new LP in September. Latest single ‘Don’t Be Afraid If Nobody Loves You’ was a continuation of their good form, so i’m hopeful for the full project.

Black Honey – Black Honey (21st)

The debut album by Black Honey comes out in September. With big tracks like ‘Hello Today’ under their belt, the indie rockers should easily pull a belter of a debut off.

Amber Arcades – European Heartbreak (28th)

Consistently good since her debut in 2016, Amber Arcades has released a scattering of singles and an EP since then, and is building up to release her 2nd project proper in late September.

Doe – Grow Into It (28th)

London indie rock trio Doe will be following up their brilliant debut ‘Some Things Last Longer Than You’ in September. Lead single ‘Heated’ is a punky banger.

October

Twenty One Pilots – Trench (5th)

The emo rock/rap duo return after 2015’s massive ‘Blurryface’ album, which catapulted them into the mainstream. Lead double singles ‘Jumpsuit’ and ‘Nico and the Niners’ were both quality tunes from the lads.

Estrons – You Say I’m Too Much, I Say You’re Not Enough (5th)

The welsh rockers are winding up to release their debut album on in October, with lead single ‘Cameras’ giving a good taste of what to expect.

The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships

Matty and co. have been working on two new albums since 2016’s ‘I Like It When You Sleep..’ and the first of those is slated for release some time in October. The 2 singles released so far have been good pop bangers so we shall see.

Some time this year (hopefully)

Charli XCX

She’s been working on her third ‘proper’ album for quite some time now, releasing a slew of mixtapes and singles since 2015’s ‘Sucker’. It will probably be worth the wait though.

Childish Gambino

Donald has been rather busy lately, and rumour is the singles he has been dropping so far this year are part of a full project slated for Autumn. Very good.

Vampire Weekend

Please hurry up you’ve had since 2013.

Brockhampton

We know they have an album out, just not when. Good singles so far this year though, especially ‘1997 Wildfire’.

The Good, The Bad and The Queen

One of Damon Albarn’s 100 bands has their second album ‘finished’ and will be released sometime in 2018. Their last one way back in 2007 was some of Damo’s finest work to date, so this should be very good.

Anderson Paak.

Following on from the excellent ‘Malibu’ album, Anderson is meant to have 2 albums coming out in 2018. He’s leaving it late if that’s the case but still, something to look forward to.


Of course, there will be a few surprise releases, and there’s always a few date changes but that’s all part of the fun really.