Eleven years ago, Blur/Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn teamed up with a few friends to make an album called The Good, the Bad & The Queen. It’s a lovely set of downbeat ballads about life in London, but after that lone 2007 LP, the impromptu supergroup’s members — Albarn, Clash bassist Paul Simonon, Verve guitarist Simon Tong and legendary Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen — went their separate ways.
Now they’ve rejoined for a new album called Merrie Land, due out November 16th. Longtime David Bowie collaborator Tony Visconti produced the LP (replacing Danger Mouse in the producer’s chair), and you can hear the title track right now. “Merrie Land” is a bittersweet stream-of-consciousness lament that sounds a little like James Joyce covering Blur’s “This is a Low.” The lyrics read like a national breakup letter for the Brexit era: “If you’re leaving, please still say goodbye/And if you are leaving, can you leave me my Silver Jubilee mug?” Albarn sings.
Last year, Albarn gave Rolling Stone‘s David Fricke a status update on the upcoming album. “I see the Good, the Bad and the Queen record as being a soul version of [Blur’s 1994 album] Parklife,” he said. “It’s stories about Britain – as it is now. We’ve been up in [the English seaside resort] Blackpool. That’s where I’ve been getting my energy for that. I decide on places, and I like sticking to it. Everything has to happen in my head in that place.”
Merrie Land will be Albarn’s second full-length LP of 2018, following Gorillaz’ excellent The Now Now this summer. That cartoon band recently wrapped up a U.S. tour at the first-ever Demon Dayz festival in Los Angeles. In December, Albarn will take the Good, the Bad & the Queen on the road for a weeklong run of U.K. shows.
Popular on Rolling Stone
The Good, the Bad & the Queen Tour Dates
December 1st, The North Pier, Blackpool
December 2nd, SWG3, Glasgow
December 4th, Hackney Arts Centre, London
December 5th, Hackney Arts Centre, London
December 6th, Hackney Arts Centre, London
Merrie Land track list
“Gun to the Head”
“The Great Fire”
“Drifters & Trawlers”
“The Truce of Twilight”
“The Last Man to Leave”
“The Poison Tree”