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The Gorillaz

Our critics' picks in new releases

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This debut by "the world's first virtual band" has achieved great popularity in area coffee shops, record stores and pizza joints, far more than similar efforts by producer Dan the Automator such as the Handsome Boy Modeling School album (So ... How's Your Girl? with Prince Paul) and Deltron 3030 (a sci-fi concept album with Del the Funky Homosapien). This is probably because the Gorillaz's album is an almost exclusively pop album, as Damon Albarn (Blur) is often the most audible presence on the album. The potential that the album had in incorporating endlessly fascinating artists like Miho Hatori (Cibo Matto) and Del the Funky Homosapien is--for the most part--lost as they take a back seat to Albarn.

Albarn's voice could not be more annoying. On the single, "Clint Eastwood," he and the Automator for some reason found it necessary to ruin what could have been another great Del/Dan song by having him croon on the hook. Hatori is reduced to a back-up singer, even though Cibo Matto has always produced material more in line with the apparent aims of a would-be experimental supergroup like the Gorillaz. It's not a question of accessibility: So ... How's Your Girl? and Deltron 3030 are both straightforward collaborative efforts. Rather, it seems that bigger audiences won't accept pseudo-pop records that are hip-hop albums first. The Gorillaz album is not an outright failure, it's just that it is difficult to praise an album that could have been titled Good For In-Store Play.

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