With the break up of Blur, the four members went on to quite different pastures. Drummer Dave Rowntree entered the world of politics, for Labour; bassist Alex James moved to a very big house in the country and makes award-winning cheese; guitarist Graham Coxon is a respected solo artist and the Godfather of Camden Town; and while singer Damon Albarn’s ventures have been many and varied, the most enduring by far is the career of his two-dimensional band Gorillaz.
Created by Albarn and his flatmate Jamie Hewlett (who does the drawings), the problem with creating a cartoon band is that the project will perpetually be a struggle against being seen simply as a novelty. Fortunately, there are at most two showings on The Singles Collection 2001–2011 that sound like novelty singles – ‘Rock the House’ and ‘Superfast Jellyfish’. Gorillaz’s talent is more than evident on this collection, as Albarn and co. mix old-school hip-hop with modern electronica and trip-hop. The band matched perfectly the frontman’s world music ideals with his pop sensibilities.
Because this album only represents the singles the band released (although curiously none of them were released in 2011), there is a suspicion that this collection does not represent the band properly. While Demon Days spawned successful singles, the album could not match the quality of said singles. Fortunately, only one track from The Fall manages to make it onto The Singles Collection – the slightly underwhelming collaboration with Daley, ‘Doncamatic’.
Later in Gorillaz’s career they became defined by their collaborators, and this collection features such diverse characters as Shaun Ryder, De La Soul and Gruff Rhys without seeming forced. Despite the change of styles and the revolving door of collaborators on this record, Albarn’s vision seems to be quite consistent. You can barely even tell that the three (let’s face it) proper albums were recorded so far apart.
While The Singles Collection is not entirely representative of their career, it certainly holds up as a great collection of songs. The timing seems a bit odd though, seeing as the band have released two albums since 2010 anyway. This record contains great songs, but you’ll spend your money more wisely by getting Gorillaz and Plastic Beach. They’re probably on a two for £10 deal anyway.
Good: Strong collection of songs.
Bad: By limiting the collection to just singles, it leaves out much of the band’s better songs.