Thursday, January 25, 2007

Unnamed Supergroup — The Good, the Bad & the Queen

Why is this automatically a “Damon Albarn project”? I’m not saying the fussy Blur frontman isn’t the driving force here, but why isn’t this touted as Danger Mouse’s next joint with vocals by that guy the Gallaghers'The First Noel the angels said, fooking ell hate. Why isn’t press raving about Paul Simonon’s much-delayed response to Big Audio Dynamite?

That Albarn consistently gets “mastermind” billing is astounding, in part ‘cause he might actually deserve it over his orchestra mates. Kiddies, if you’re looking for a career template for surviving in modern rock, Damon is your man. That he remains relevant longer after Noel and Jarvis doesn’t surprise me — I am Blur man, always was — but that the reinventions keep coming is amazing in the most-important-band-of-the-last-five-minutes world of English rock.

Still even the most dedicated fan has to admit a pompous untitled world-music supergroup coming together to rage against war and the gentrification of greater London has “suck” written all over it.

So why the hell does it work so effing well?

It’s a decidedly dour, self-consciously “important” record that consistently wrings out more delights that has any right to. The terrible title revisits the Gorillaz’sLook for the new Albarn joint, Any Which Way But Loose Clint Eastwood fixation, and sonically you might say the record merely lobs off most of the hip-hop edges of that project — a pensive 2D solo record if you will. Yet anchored by the sophisticated slink of Simonon’s bass and the refreshing understated blips and tweaks of Danger Mouse’s production, it all holds together as a perfectly listenable, worthwhile side project.

Unlike everybody else I’ll admit I know nothing about drummer Tony Allen, but I assumed things would get funkier under his watch. Outside of a few minutes on “Three Changes,” it never really happens though. DM has processed so much of his work it often sounds like it was cobbled together on the laptop (not a knock, just a point of fact). The mournful interplay of Albarn’s carvival keys and the haunting guitar of the Verve's Simon Tong is what most often takes center stage.

I haven’t gotten around to listening to this back to back with last year’s Eraser, but I get the feeling that’s what Damon was shooting for. The album’s filled with weak-ass attempted Yorke-isms, “Emptiness in computers bothers me” on “A Soldier’s Tale.”

When's the Penfold album dropping?Still as a discerning organizer of collaborators, Damon convinces you to ignore the pretense and indulgence. His last sane man in London shtick works here because you believe outlasting his Britpop peers and even his real band (at least the classic Coxon line-up) has left Albarn as genuinely lonely as he sound on GB&Q — hence all the young and not-so-young dudes he keeps convincing to play on his records.

So bottom-line, modern life is still rubbish, but at least the company’s nice.

Rating 4/5.

-Dmitri Jr.

Labels: , ,


Blogger Gorilla said...

Almost a whole day and nobody even mentions my mad Oasis-pun-photoshoping skills.

[Pat on back]

First Noel, come on, that's effing genius.

[shake own hand]

Keep up the good work, self.

2:20 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home