“I fell in love with my iPad as soon as I got it, so I’ve made a completely different kind of record”
Written and recorded while taking Gorillaz’s Escape From Plastic Beach Tour across the US that October, The Fall was part worn-out travelogue, part the ever-restless Albarn’s way of channelling new inspiration. “I had a month on tour in America and every day I had at least three hours of emptiness to fill. So I filled them,” he said, in a matter-of-fact manner befitting his prolific nature. Song titles such as Phoner To Arizona, Detroit, Shy-Town and The Snake In Dallas acknowledged the cities that had sparked their creation, while Albarn, enamoured with his newly acquired hardware, created a collection of lo-fi beats and sketched observations that had more in common with his 2003 solo release, Democrazy, than it did Gorillaz’s previous album, Plastic Beach.
Yet, where that album’s slickly-fashioned pop songs featured guest spots from Snoop Dogg, Kano, Gruff Rhys and The Fall’s Mark E Smith, this Fall was largely the sound of one man trying to make sense of the country he was traversing while in charge of a small continent’s worth of musicians. It had been almost 20 years since Albarn had first visited the US, in support of Blur’s debut album, Leisure, and, having often caused the group consternation during the Britpop era – leading them to record defiantly British albums such as Modern Life Is Rubbish and Parklife – the US continued to provoke a response in the singer.
“I used to be very baffled by this place, and I guess I still am in some ways,” Albarn admitted to NME. “America confused me enormously. But right now with all that’s going on this is a good place to be and this has been a great tour, the shows have been very special.”