Widely believed to have been created by your annoying friends’ endless “what if” scenarios, Rocket Juice and the Moon is the amalgamation of Damon Albarn, Flea and Tony Allen. Yes that Damon, of course that Flea and for dramatic effect/randomness Tony Allen of Memphis Griz-I mean Fela Kuti fame. Even with the proverbial grain of salt, Rocket Juice still tastes bland. It’s not the chili peppers (pun unintended) or Blur or the Gorillaz, it’s something less polished. Straight up, this album doesn’t suck… it’s just boring. Most of the tracks begin with a head nodding rhythm–Flea’s funk-inspired basslines match well with Allen’s South African drum patterns–but halfway through the song you wonder if it’s going to evolve in to anything. Too often it doesn’t.
Take “Follow-Fashion” for example. This jam builds slowly for the first 45 seconds layer by layer until the horns kick in and we hear the smooth crooning of Fatoumata Diawara…and then…nothing. Well not nothing really, Ghanian rapper M.anifest holds it down with a decent verse showcasing his effortless flow but musically the song does not progress.The same guitar lick plays through most of the nearly 4 minute track. “Fatherless” sounds like an under-produced Gorillaz beat and would probably benefit with an Alburn-as-2D cameo and maybe some synths.
The songs are like a dry sandwich in need of condiments, something else to finish them off. Despite numerous guest appearances including Erykah Badu, the album is disappointing. On a positive tip, “Poison” is by far the most polished song and it’s also one of the only ones that Damon appears on. In fact, he is featured so little the title is “Poison (ft. Damon Alburn).” For all it’s inconsistencies, I’d say Rocket Juice and the Moon is worth a listen if you’re an obsessive fan of either instrumentalist. But don’t expect too much.