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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - 'Plastic Beach' (Virgin)
Artist - Gorillaz

"Plastic Beach" takes the Gorillaz in a new turn, and it's not necessarily one I'd expected. You see, while it extends the hip-hop guesting that came and went throughout "Demon Days", this time around our four heroes are overshadowed by all the cameos. With rappers including Snoop Doog ("Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach") and Mos Def ("Stylo"), plus some soulful Bobby Womack ("Stylo", "Cloud of Unknowning") and a guest appearance be De La Soul ("Sweepstakes" and the whimsical "Superfast Jellyfish"), Plastic Beach leaves little room for the likes of Murdoc, 2D, Russell and Noodle.

Plastic Beach is still a work of art, make no mistake--but be prepared for jarring nosedives into hip-hop that bounce back into alternative and experimental. "White Flag" and the "Orchestral Intro" are truly beautiful...and they feel truly out of place. Lou Reed was a surprising blast from the past in "Some Kind of Nature"and then we get a disco-Beatles bounce in "Melancholy Hill", one of the rare appearances by Damon Albarn (who sings the part of 2D). It almost feels as if Albarn and crew are a bit shy, and by the time they come out to play, the album's mostly over--hear them wave goodbye in the closing track "Pirate Jet"

If you're the kind of person who likes Demon Days and has some pretty broad musical tastes, you'll find "Plastic Beach" provides you a nice variety of "different". If you're looking for something more rhythmic, danceable, and holding the alt-pop appeal of the first two albums, this might take some listening to grow on you. [PC]