5. Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
Gorillaz has been an enjoyable diversion from Damon Albarn’s musical ventures with Blur. Two albums of quality albeit hit-or-miss hip-hop pop, the band has now given us an semi-experimental pop record that works as a whole despite the variances of its individual parts. Mixing orchestral pieces with electronica, rap, rock and old-school R&B, Plastic Beach is a collaboration with an extraordinary cast of special guests. The band has delivered their finest piece of work that is not only consistent, but in turns dirty, funny and beautiful.
Favorite songs: “Stylo,” “Superfast Jellyfish,” “Empire Ants,” “On Melancholy Hill,” “Plastic Beach”
4. Orchestral Maneuvers In The Dark – History Of Modern
OMD’s story is similar to Tears For Fears: band consisting of multiple members is reduced to a duo and then the less creative one leaves. Years later hurts are put aside and an attempt at re-living the past is made. While this produced only mediocre results for TFF, OMD made their best since 1985’s Crush. History Of Modern is full of old-school OMD sounds and arrangements (pre-fame) mixed with John Hughes-era melodies. Of course they couldn’t have ‘modern’ in the title of their new album with updating something so they successfully try their hand at rock (“New Babies: New Toys”), Hi-NRG (“Pulse”) and — of all things — new age (“The Right Side?”) A surprise to say the least, OMD has achieved the rarity of reconstitution and still tasting good.
Favorite songs: “New Babies: New Toys,” “History Of Modern, Part 1,” “RFWK,” “Pulse,” “The Right Side?”