The Good, The Bad & The Queen–Northern Whale

The Good, The Bad & The Queen is an embarrassment of riches.  Call it a supergroup if you want, but the one-off collaboration between Damon Albarn, Paul Simonon, Simon Tong and Tony Allen is remarkable for the way it features musicians from some of the English languages greatest bands (Blur, The Clash, The Verve and Africa ’70, respectively) at the peak of their powers, while also sounding impeccably cohesive and completely itself.  It’s all the more unbelievable given that each band was seminal in a totally different genre (britpop, punk, shoegaze and afrobeat). The album is practically faultless and Northern Whale is one of the tracks that keeps on giving, even after a multitude of listens.  A nocturnal soundscape, the rich, twinkling, mechanical blur of a city going to sleep wraps around the mournful soothing of late era Albarn.  “They only hear you in a dream,” he calmly comforts, “lying by a sad machine.  Sing on, Love, your melody.”  It’s all about conveying a feeling here, with normally bright instrumentation transformed by a low hanging haze throughout.  If there is a better song for watching the world go by at night, I’ve yet to hear it.

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