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CD of The Week

Week of 12/03/18

    The Good, The Bad & The Queen - Merrie Land (Studio 13 / ADA)

    The past two years have been very good if you're a Damon Albarn fan. The Blur frontman has been incredibly active, releasing a pair of albums by his long-running cartoon band Gorillaz and touring behind both records. But somewhere along the way, he also found the time to revisit his 2007 side project The Good, The Bad & The Queen.

    The Good, The Bad & The Queen was a collaboration with The Clash bassist Paul Simonon, ex-Verve guitarist Simon Tong and Afrobeat pioneer/percussionist Tony Allen. Their self-titled record was a treatise on the state of London at the time. But following the messiness of Brexit, Albarn had more to say about his homeland, thus giving us Merrie Land, their second record.

    Merrie Land is a lush-sounding trip through 2018 England, with Albarn looking around and feeling sorrow for what he sees. In the title track, he waves goodbye to the EU while feeling the walls closing in and keeping people out. When he sings that "No one is leaving / Now this is your home," it invokes the shared sentiment here in the U.S. that you've made your bed, now you have to lie in.

    "Merrie Land," "Gun to the Head" and a few other songs feature swirling organs, evoking a sad, dark carnival vibe at times. The entirety of Merrie Land is a moody piece, written to be taken as a whole. It's almost the down-to-Earth flipside of Arctic Monkeys' Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino, spending time with those stuck on the ground, held down by the 1% and unable to access those 4-star rooftop taquerias.

    With Merrie Land, The Good, The Bad & The Queen have created a very specific vibe, short on hooks but long on foggy London gloom, with a few peaks of Albarn's optimism shining through.
    Review by Joey O.

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