Super groups have the tendency to drop an album, do a tour, and never return. In 2007, when Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz released the debut release from The Good, The Bad & The Queen, it felt like a one off solo release. However, this new record Merrie Land proves that both are not true. Backed by Paul Simonon of The Clash, Simon Tong of The Verve and Tony Allen of Fela Kuti, the new album makes the case for the super group while hopefully marking more music from this outfit and less from Albarn’s Gorllaz.
Albarn has always been ahead of many of his contemporaries, though with this record it feels like he’s really leaping out there. The album has more depth than the debut, and the members seem to bounce off of one another with grace and humility. The opening song “Merrie Land” has lots of pop feel, though its closer to a reggaeton track, with Afrobeat and jazz notes that dance underneath Albarn’s vocals. This jazzy feel appears throughout the release, especially on “Nineteen Seventeen,” where the drums alone hone in on Allen’s masterful measures. Things sound offbeat to the untrained ear, though everything is on track while it keeps your head bopping.
There’s a pop sound to “Drifters & Trawlers,” a stripped down and emotive sound on “Ribbons” and a dark free jazz feel to “The Poison Tree,” all of which round out this level of musicianship in the grandest way possible. However the gold with this coupling of artistry is on the almost bizarre. The magic of tracks like “The Truce of Twilight” and “Lady Boston” where the band almost seems to throw in everything they’ve amassed over the years to craft something else, like no one else. There’s so much happening on these tracks, that it’s like when records were made fifty years ago with the best artists together in one space, and that may be the best way to describe what you’ll hear on Merrie Land.
You can stream Merrie Land on all streaming platforms, you can purchase it from all digital storefronts, or directly from Warner Music. The Good, The Bad & The Queen will be on tour starting tonight at Tynemouth CIU Club in Tynemouth, U.K. until December 06 at EartH (Hackney Arts Centre). A complete list of their tour dates can be accessed here.
Image Credits: Photo by Pennie Smith.