Merrie Land

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Merrie Land
Merrie Land.jpg
Studio album by
The Good, the Bad & the Queen
Released16 November 2018
Recorded2017–2018
StudioStudio 13
GenreFolk rock[1]
Length37:28
LabelStudio 13
ProducerTony Visconti, The Good, the Bad & the Queen
The Good, the Bad & the Queen chronology
The Good, the Bad & the Queen
(2007)
Merrie Land
(2018)
Damon Albarn chronology
The Now Now
(2018)
Merrie Land
(2018)
Tony Allen chronology
What Goes Up
(2017)
Merrie Land
(2018)
Paul Simonon chronology
The Good, the Bad & the Queen
(2007)
Merrie Land
(2018)
Simon Tong chronology
Prospect of Skelmersdale
(2016)
Merrie Land
(2018)
Singles from Merrie Land
  1. "Merrie Land"
    Released: 23 October 2018
  2. "Gun to the Head"
    Released: 5 November 2018

Merrie Land is the second album by English alternative rock supergroup The Good, the Bad & the Queen (Damon Albarn, Paul Simonon, Simon Tong and Tony Allen).[2] The album was produced by Tony Visconti and released on 16 November 2018.[3]

Promotion[edit]

The band announced the album with the single "Merrie Land" and news that they would embark on a five-date tour of the UK in early December 2018.[4][5] In an interview for The Scotsman, Albarn commented that the album is "a reluctant goodbye letter” to the European Union following Brexit, and "a series of observations and reflections on Britishness in 2018."[6] A video released for "Merrie Land" featured Albarn[7] dressed as a ventriloquist's dummy singing and gesturing in front of a backdrop of pastoral images and English landscapes.[8]

The band released the second single from the album, "Gun to the Head", on 5 November 2018. The track features "organ, bassoon, recorder, and a British Invasion-style ensemble pop hook [which] lend the song a cheery boardwalk shine, undercut by Albarn's knotty lyrics of conspiratorial and repressive governance."[8] The video released for "Gun to the Head" also featured Albarn dressed as a ventriloquist's dummy, but with backup dummies and a black backdrop.[8] Three additional "warm-up shows" for the band in late November 2018 were announced alongside the release of the second single and its video.[9]

Recording[edit]

Sessions for the album started in January 2017, when Albarn, Simonon and Tong spent time in Blackpool, which was originally going to be its main focus. However, Albarn expanded the focus of the album over the next two years while touring with Gorillaz for the albums Humanz and The Now Now.[10]

In an interview with The Guardian, the band members admitted that Merrie Land shares creative attributes with its predecessor, The Good, the Bad & the Queen, but stylistically the two are dissimilar. Simonon characterised Merrie Land as "modern English folk music with a bit of rub-a-dub in it" while Allen noted "this time around, people can dance".[10] The interview, conducted by music critic John Harris, focused on the album's inspiration in the Brexit vote, and how that impacted the themes on Merrie Land. Where the band's first album was "murky" in its depiction of London, Merrie Land "[evokes] the contorted confusion of Brexit", and "widens its focus beyond the capital and has an even sharper sense of place."[10] Simonon also highlighted the album's title as "kind of [alluding] to people's nostalgic, sentimental vision of how England used to be. And it never really existed."[10]

Artwork[edit]

The cover of the album features a shot of Michael Redgrave from the 1945 horror movie Dead of Night, in which he plays a ventriloquist taken over by his dummy.[11]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic78/100[12]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4/5 stars[13]
Clash8/10[14]
Consequence of SoundB+[15]
Drowned in Sound8/10[16]
The Guardian3/5 stars[11]
The Independent4/5 stars[17]
The Line of Best Fit8/10[18]
Mojo4/5 stars[19]
NME3/5 stars[1]
Uncut7/10[20]

Reviews for the album were mostly positive, with The Independent calling the album "entertaining and theatrical" and stating that its vocals "capture the social observation of [Blur album] Parklife",[17] and Clash magazine labeling the album "curious twenty-first century folk about curious twenty-first century folk", adding that while Albarn's lyrics concerning Britain were a "proven formula", it was his collaboration with the rest of the band that made the album unique.[14] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 78, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[12] Some critics felt that the album was unfocused, with The Guardian stating that despite its rich instrumentation, its writing "never resolves into anything concrete".[11] NME held a similar position, referring to it as "muddled" and stating that "beyond the title track and ‘Lady Boston’, it begins to wear thin quicker than a seagull nosediving to your soggy paper of chips".[1]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Damon Albarn; all music composed by Damon Albarn, Tony Allen, Paul Simonon, Simon Tong and Tony Visconti.

No.TitleLength
1."Introduction"0:13
2."Merrie Land"4:46
3."Gun to the Head"4:19
4."Nineteen Seventeen"3:43
5."The Great Fire"3:56
6."Lady Boston"4:19
7."Drifters & Trawlers"2:34
8."The Truce of Twilight"4:22
9."Ribbons"2:52
10."The Last Man to Leave"2:38
11."The Poison Tree"3:40
Total length:37:28

Sample credits

Charts[edit]

Chart (2018) Peak
position
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[21] 41
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[22] 55
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[23] 106
French Albums (SNEP)[24] 75
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[25] 62
Irish Albums (IRMA)[26] 35
Italian Albums (FIMI)[27] 83
Scottish Albums (OCC)[28] 26
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[29] 86
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[30] 30
UK Albums (OCC)[31] 31
US Independent Albums (Billboard)[32] 20

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Smith, Thomas (16 November 2018). "The Good, The Bad and The Queen – 'Merrie Land' review". NME. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  2. ^ Fiona Shepherd (27 October 2018). "Damon Albarn on Blackpool, Brexit and the art of making Merrie". The Scotsman. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  3. ^ Simon Vozick-Levinson (23 October 2018). "Damon Albarn's the Good, the Bad & the Queen Return With First Album Since 2007". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  4. ^ Evan Minsker and Braudie Blais-Billie (23 October 2018). "Damon Albarn's The Good, the Bad & the Queen Announce First New Album in 11 Years, Share New Song: Listen". Pitchfork. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  5. ^ Robin Murray (23 October 2018). "The Good, The Bad & The Queen Announce New Album 'Merrie Land'". Clash. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  6. ^ "Damon Albarn's band The Good, The Bad & the Queen announce new Brexit-inspired album and Glasgow date". The Scotsman. 23 October 2018. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  7. ^ Patrick Clarke (13 November 2018). "The Good, The Bad & The Queen reveal the true identity of their ventriloquist's dummy". NME. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  8. ^ a b c Tosten Burks (5 November 2018). "Video: The Good, the Bad, and the Queen – "Gun To The Head"". Spin. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  9. ^ Andrew Trendell (5 November 2018). "The Good, The Bad & The Queen share new song 'Gun To The Head' and announce intimate UK warm-up shows". NME. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  10. ^ a b c d John Harris (9 November 2018). "Damon Albarn on Brexit: 'We live on this stroppy little island'". NME. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  11. ^ a b c Michael Hann (16 November 2018). "The Good, the Bad & the Queen: Merrie Land review – Damon Albarn's scattergun sketch of Britain". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  12. ^ a b "Merrie Land by The Good, the Bad, & the Queen". Metacritic. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
  13. ^ James, Gareth (4 December 2018). "The Good, The Bad & The Queen - Merrie Land". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
  14. ^ a b James, Gareth (15 November 2018). "The Good, The Bad & The Queen - Merrie Land". Clash. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
  15. ^ Ham, Robert (16 November 2018). "The Good, the Bad & the Queen Return with the Sharp, Lush Merrie Land". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
  16. ^ Burrows, Marc (16 November 2018). "The Good The Bad & The Queen - Merrie Land". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
  17. ^ a b Roisin, O'Connor; Bray, Elisa (16 November 2018). "Album reviews: Michael Buble – Love, and The Good, the Bad and the Queen – Merrie Land". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
  18. ^ Horton, Ross (15 November 2018). "The Good, The Bad & The Queen rail against Brexit Britain on Merrie Land". The Line of Best Fit. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  19. ^ "The Good, The Bad & The Queen - Merrie Land". Mojo (301): 82. December 2018.
  20. ^ O'Connell, Sharon (January 2019). "The Good, The Bad And The Queen - Merrie Land". Uncut: 18. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  21. ^ "Austriancharts.at – The Good, the Bad & the Queen – Merrie Land" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  22. ^ "Ultratop.be – The Good, the Bad & the Queen – Merrie Land" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 24 November 2018.
  23. ^ "Ultratop.be – The Good, the Bad & the Queen – Merrie Land" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  24. ^ "Le Top de la semaine : Top Albums Fusionnes – SNEP (Week 47, 2018)" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  25. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – The Good, the Bad & the Queen – Merrie Land" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  26. ^ "Irish Albums Chart: 23 November 2018". Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved 24 November 2018.
  27. ^ "Album – Classifica settimanale WK 47 (dal 2018-11-16 al 2018-11-22)" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved 24 November 2018.
  28. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 24 November 2018.
  29. ^ "Top 100 Albumes – Semana 47: del 16.11.2018 al 22.11.2018" (in Spanish). Productores de Música de España. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  30. ^ "Swisscharts.com – The Good, the Bad & the Queen – Merrie Land". Hung Medien. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  31. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 24 November 2018.
  32. ^ "The Good, the Bad & the Queen Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-11-27.