Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
Last year a couple of L.A. producers gathered an all-star cast of guests for an album about peace, love and understanding: N.A.S.A.'s The Spirit of Apollo was an idealistic dream that proved impossible to execute. Gorillaz' third album Plastic Beach is reminiscent because its impressive and wide-ranging cast list – Snoop Dogg, Lou Reed, Mos Def, Mark E. Smith and more – has gathered to grumble about consumption and pollution issues, and because the variety of guests has forced Damon Albarn into some dizzyingly eclectic styles.
When Snoop's drawl gives way to bongo rapping and a shimmering synth line is replaced by an ornate flute melody, you have to check you're not set to shuffle. The star of this show is Bobby Womack, whose pained warble adorns Cloud Of Unknowing and brilliant first single Stylo; beyond that, there's a lot of filler. That's the problem with all-star albums: it's hard to cut the lesser tracks when you made them with your heroes. [Ally Brown]