It’s becoming increasingly apparent that Damon Albarn has a pretty much unquenchable thirst when it comes to making music. From the seemingly abandoned Blur through to the quirky electronica of his cartoon big hitters Gorillaz. Just when you think he might be ripe for a long overdue rest he returns with his latest project. The Good, The Bad & The Queen.
Suitably different from his previous projects but containing enough frames of reference to familiarise the listener of his involvement, The Good, The Bad & The Queen is a collaboration between Albarn, Paul Simonon (ex Clash), Simon Tong (ex Verve) and Tony Allen (Africa 70). A looser more relaxed collection of songs than his previous projects, Albarn’s song writing stamp is still firmly in place but there’s a dark romanticism in play here and a deliberate absence of self-consciousness to the construction of the songs. Often mournful in tone and mixing a range of influences in the subtlest styles. Simonon’s workmanlike bass punctuates the music and serves to anchor the somewhat ethereal soundtracks (particularly on The Bunting Song and Behind The Sun).
Elsewhere there are ghostly stabs of ragtime, the faintest hints of punch drunk ska and dub and in places the thinnest wafers of electronica just to add suitably spectral effects. No doubt having Danger Mouse at the production helm for the project served to bring some of these influences home. Obvious drop in points are the singles Herculean and Kingdom of Doom, and if you liked them then there is every chance you will get on with the rest of the content.
For me though despite the positives this album has to offer in terms of musicianship there is still something missing. I think its clear that Albarn was going for something of a career defining masterwork here, moving away from the poppier sensibilities of his back catalogue. It’s a nice effort but at times (especially lyrically) it reveals flaws. In essence it’s a grower and a potential mid price purchase.
Nothing legendary here, but pleasant all the same.