The creative genius of Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett is always a refreshing subject; one that involves intricately drawn cartoons, a virtual band and a fictional universe that’s composed of their entire musical project. Selling over seven million copies of their 2001 self-titled debut album, they’ve been deemed the most successful virtual band by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Constantly releasing albums, including two B-sides and a remix album, Albarn and Hewlett are continually experimenting with sound on many levels. Released in the spring, Plastic Beach took them to an ever greater place but not without some backlash.

The miles travelled by Albarn and Hewlett on their latest North American Plastic Beach tour inspired this album. According to the band’s website, Albarn had become frustrated with the amount of downtime on the tour bus, so they started writing this personal project and ended up with a full-length, fifteen-track album.

It doesn’t stop there, though. The album’s initial recordings were not only accomplished on the tour bus; but on an iPad as well. The band’s full exploitation of the hate-to-love technology led to a celebrated release of the album on Christmas Day. The Fall is available for free download if you’re a paying member of Gorillaz’ fan club. Otherwise, you can stream the entire album online via the Gorillaz homepage.

The band’s tour route (on which the album is based) includes a magical variety of landscapes. From the endless lines of scorching pavement to the sprawling Rocky Mountains, the fifteen songs tempt your imagination into playing a little visual game or two. The mystical, other-worldly atmosphere the album puts off makes for a fun digestion process of each and every song.

Like a neatly nested cocoon, The Fall bundles you up with a chilled, enigmatic vibe, and ‘Revolving Doors’ is a perfect example of that mood. The melodramatic territory of winter can be felt in the constant looping and waning tone, but when Albarn lyrically breeches the literal, it’s almost like you’ve heard it all before.

The album continues on with ‘Hillbilly Man’. Its spacious interlude provides a whimsical happiness, unexpectedly heating up mid-way and channelling their coolness until the very end. While ‘Shytown’ is slowly evolving, it provides no predicaments in proceeding through the rest of the album where you run into ‘The Parish of Space Dust’. Like a big-haired marching band waving that Texas flag with glory, it’s a hopelessly entertaining perspective of the state where everything’s bigger.

However, listeners may miss the saturated sound and energetic flow of Plastic Beach. Although Albarn and Hewlett received criticism from some hardcore Gorillaz fans that the electro pop and added instrumentation dramatically altered their sound, Plastic Beach is still one of our go-to albums to date.

With that being said, all is not lost with The Fall. Considering what the album presents with its multi-dimensional concept, they get a thumbs-up for the fun listening experience and mellow change of pace. Think of it as more of a soundtrack; the softer feel and smooth beats accompany the sonic journey well. If you take a few tracks at a time, getting into the groove isn’t difficult. The guys like to have a good time and for that, we are appreciative.