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The Good, The Bad & The Queen: The Good, The Bad & The Queen

Album: The Good, The Bad & The Queen
Label: Parlophone/Virgin

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You can't fake chemistry, which is why more memorable music comes from people who came up together, even if they hate each other (e.g. Rage Against The Machine), than from mated-in-captivity assemblages of talented musicians (e.g. Audioslave). That's why supergroups, however awesome the lineup, tend to be not-so-super. The Good, The Bad & The Queen unites Blur frontman Damon Albarn with Clash bassist Paul Simonon, Verve guitarist Simon Tong, and Tony Allen, a longtime percussionist and musical director for Fela Kuti under the production of Albarn's Gorillaz mate Danger Mouse. It sounds like a can't-miss arrangement, but the results can at best be politely called "intriguing," and at worst, "pretty dull."

While there's no denying the talent of everyone involved here, it mostly gets lost in an Albarn-dominated album, as he sonically and lyrically chases the same bewildered, exhausted tone he's been after since Blur's 13. "Drink all day coz the country is at war," he sings on "Kingdom Of Doom," continuing, "In the flood we all get washed away." It's dreary stuff, and Albarn's collaborators give him a sound to match. It's easy to respect the album's sustained washed-out tone, but it'd be nice if the songs were memorable past their running time. Intrigue without any payoff makes for pretty dull listening.