I get the feeling that, like myself, Damon Albarn suffers from insomnia. Not in the sense that he’s constantly active and regularly releasing new albums, which is not the case. Rather, the music he does release has an ethereal quality to it. A quality that tends to manifest in the delusional, dreamlike states one can only slip into while deprived of sleep. The upbeat poppy aspects of these delusions can be seen in early Blur and Gorillaz disks as a euphoric fantasyland of hope, possibilities and a fuck-all attitude. At other times a more somber tone is produced. A quality that is born out of a restless state in which you simply have no energy to do anything but lie there thinking about sleep, slowly forgetting what sleeping really feels like. It’s a state filled with shifty moments of despair, where the world seems full of life to everyone but you. This is the condition that Mali Music, Demo-Crazy, and the later Blur albums seem to capture best. This dreamlike evolution bring us to Damon’s newest album, The Good, the Bad and the Queen, a project that started as a solo album but after working with Danger Mouse on the last Gorillaz album, Damon lassoed him and a few other notables -Paul Simonon, Tony Allen and Simon Tong- in as well.
So, other than a vague dreamlike album, how is it? It is good for what it is. A paradigm of split personalities, feeling both the highs and lows which accompany life and change, drifting upon a world of sounds. It is both an ethnic musical journey, much like Mali Music and a dedication to his homeland, England. The songs contained within these 43 short minutes are comprised of warm rich sounds which bring forth a spirit of growing up and recollection of youth. You can feel the lush memories of years since passed and how the dreams of younger years have developed into a reality which may -or may not- be a far off cry from what was imagined. You can hear a voice which has experienced life and seen the world, and you hear that voice share a split idea of the hope of innocence mixed with the longing for things to be better. I feel that the track Green Fields is the summation of the album, both in sound and in lyrics.
Before the war and the tidal wave
Engulfed us it’s true
How the world has changed
And I was learning how to change with you
The mix of traditional Algerian and English influences, sitting upon a field of beats and production of contemporary ideas, coupled with the stories chosen, creates an album which is a journey into the mind of an adult man dreaming of his dreams of youth and how they have turned out.