The Good, the Bad & the Queen: Merrie Land review – almost-anthems for England’s dreaming

Damon Albarn

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Damon Albarn’s eclectic supergroup confront national myths on an ambitious album of Brexit-era Anglicana

“This is not rhetoric, it comes from my heart,” sings Damon Albarn on the title track of this latest album by the Good, the Bad & the Queen. Nearly 12 years on from their self-titled debut – an atmospheric ode to west London that united Clash bassist Paul Simonon with Nigerian funk drummer Tony Allen – fellow traveller of Fela Kuti – and guitarist Simon Tong, most notably of the Verve – Albarn’s haunted supergroup have returned, like a more urbane, slightly more louche version of King Arthur and his knights, to an imperilled country.

What exactly is that country, though? “Are we green, are we pleasant?” wonders Albarn bitterly, “We are not either of those, father / We are a shaking wreck where nothing grows / Lost in the sky-coloured oils of Merrie Land.” It’s a vision of Britain that crosses a Turner painting with Banksy’s Dismaland theme park.

Related: Damon Albarn on Brexit: 'We live on this stroppy little island'

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