Listening: The Good, The Bad and The Queen - The Good, The Bad and The Queen

The Good, The Bad & The Queen is a new project for Damon (Blur, Gorillaz) Albarn, Paul Simonon (The Clash), Simon Tong (The Verve) and Tony Allen (Fela Kuti).

As a new sound, this takes a little more listening to than some. It's very multilayered, a bit like swimming in a sea of sounds and ideas - the more I listen to the more I'm reminded of the spirit of OK Computer - which isn't to say that it's derivative, more like a worthy successor.

As a whole, it could be seen as something of a snapshot of modern unease in the West in the wake of the Bush years and a shift to darker times but it still manages to hold on to a sense of hope at the end that we can drag ourselves out of this mess.

A very rich sound that will take a number of listens to explore and each one will be worthwhile. Not necessarily an easy one to process though and the bleak vibe suggests picking your time/mood to listen to it.


History Song (3.06) - Interesting opener - looped acoustic guitar riffs beneath bouncy beats, organ and an almost Radioheadlike downbeat vocal. Hints of reggae in there as well as a bit of noodling away on piano

'80's life (3.28) - Bit like a 50s rock ballad underwater with a pounding piano (I think) and plenty of ooooohs, counterpointed by a Britpop vocal style.

Northern Whale (3.54) - Farty and clangy electro beats that hark back to Gorillaz a little, again the tapping piano, there's something about the vocal that makes you wonder what the song might be like sung by someone else but which at the same time works well with the sounds to create a distinct almost slightly wistful mood

Kingdom of Doom (2.42) - Back to a more conventional intro with a plainly strummed guitar and wanting to be heard bassline - shifts to piano from the chorus and the sound gets progressively thicker. Another less than chirpy song - I get the feeling Damon isn't too happy about the state of the world

Herculean (3.59) - Driving piano and a working mishmash of beats and sounds underscore some distant vocals (that at times sound sung down the phone line) - sense of a dischordant society (again)

Behind the sun (2.38) - Sounds like a cold, wet night in a lonely city - sirens howl in the background as Albarn sings of bleak existence but suddenly lifts to a sense of hope which brightens the song no end

The Bunting Song (3.47) - A persistent yet gentle and sometimes happy tune underlined with a sadness in the background, more Brit-bleakness in the lyrics, which feel political without being explicitly so

Nature Springs (3.10) - Gentler and more hopeful in sound but still low-key - nice acoustic guitar work (including the squeaks and squeals from changing chords), some blips and bleeps, again with the fragmentary echoes of OK Computer (a compliment, don't get me wrong). Oh and whistling - who doesn't love a bit of whistling in a tune.

A soldiers tale
(2.30) - Another lighter song, gentle guitar and strings underneath happier sounding vocals, again with the OK Computeresque lyrics which are slightly crytic but feel meaningful. More whistling.

Three changes (4.15) - A more passionate and energetic track, slightly downbeat vocals, layers and layers of sounds giving it a Gorillaz vibe, catchy buzzy hook, slightly dystopic view of England in the 21st century, interesting shift at the end to a slightly reggae beat. In my top two for this album.

Green Fields (2.26) - A gentle acoustic reflection on the changes in life in the last few years, which picks up the pace to bring it home

The Good, The Bad and The Queen (7.00) - Bit of a rocking epic, quickly dispensing with the more hopeful lyrical part of the song and launching into a buzzing, rushing, relentless emotional frenzy of clashing drums, grungy guitar and almost whistling synth and slowly fading out.