Album Review

Gorillaz fans get a sense of the road

(Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
January 3, 2011

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If you’re a member of Gorillaz’s Sub-Division fan club, you likely spent Christmas Eve downloading “The Fall,’’ their surprise new full-length (the rest of us have settled with streaming it at the band’s website or, ahem, finding it elsewhere). Unlike “Plastic Beach,’’ Gorillaz’s other 2010 album, “The Fall’’ is a downbeat collection of electro-stoner post-pop, as moody and unadorned as its predecessor was expressive and embellished. Also unlike previous cameo-laden Gorillaz efforts, this one is mostly frontman Damon Albarn (above), who recorded the album on an iPad while the band toured North America last year. It’s your quintessential on-the-road/off-the-cuff indulgence, a sometimes successful merging of traveling-band existentialism and boredom-killing filler. There are some choice cuts of the former, including a sleepwalking ukulele and synth jam (“Revolving Doors’’); somnolent, alternate universe hip-hop (“Hillbilly Man’’); and heaving glitch balladry (“Amarillo’’). Throughout, Albarn’s vocals sound as though they’re being delivered from the bed of whatever hotel he was in that night, increasing the road-weary vibe. The second half of “The Fall’’ leans a little too heavily on ambient noodly filler — it’s like a 2010 micro version of Bowie’s “Heroes’’ b-side — but Bobby Womack and his acoustic guitar make “Bobby in Phoenix’’ a welcome mirage in the otherwise glitchy desert. (Out now) ZETH LUNDY

ESSENTIAL “Revolving Doors’’