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CD: Gorillaz - Humanz | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Gorillaz - Humanz

CD: Gorillaz - Humanz

Damon Albarn's latest adventure is ripe with ear-wakening inventiveness

Welcome back Murdoc, 2D, Russel Hobbs and Noodle

For some of us Blur were an irritant during the 1990s rather than one of the decade’s premier bands. However, once Gorillaz arrived it was impossible to ignore Damon Albarn’s outrageous talent any longer. His golden touch ensured his cartoon group with artist Jamie Hewlett straddled not only multi-million-selling global success, but awed critical kudos.

2010’s The Fall album did not fare so well, but seemed to be a different kind of project, more experimental, cobbled together by Albarn on tour in the States, then fired out without extra polish. Their fifth album, though, seven years later, feels like it’s had time and care lavished on it.

In the years since Gorillaz were last with us Major Lazer have sort of stepped into their shoes, and sometimes, as on “Saturnz Bars”, featuring dancehall artist Popcaan, or “Ascension”, featuring Vince Staples, they veer a little too close to the American group’s post-EDM slickness. However, as soon as “Momentz” arrives, with guest vocals by De La Soul, the listener realises that Gorillaz are a very different proposition. The song is a techno-gospel-hip-hop banger that’s constructed in a completely unique, insanely imaginative way, yet it works. It’s brilliant.

Humanz has a few cuts that aren’t initially persuasive but, happily, the balance tips in favour of wildly inventive leftfield pop. The android soul power as Mavis Staples and Pusha T take on robotic funk on “Let Me Out”; Damon vs Grace Jones on the electro-riffin’ “Charger”; the forlorn, spacey beauty of “Busted and Blue”. In fact, one of the album’s great charms is Albarn’s gift for heart-breaking melody and his ability to sing it with perfectly underplayed vulnerability. Other guests include hip hop MC Danny Brown, singers Peven Everett, Benjamin Clementine and Anthony Hamilton, Chicago house don Jamie Principle (on the potent “Sex Murder Party"), and more, but it’s the way they play off Albarn’s own voice and out-there production that makes the album.

Gorillaz have done the unthinkable in our age of homogenised chart music, and their anti-Trump “party at the end of the world” is a pop album that punches at the sonic envelope of what pop can be.

Watch the video for Gorillaz "Andromeda"

One of the album’s great charms is Albarn’s gift for heart-breaking melody


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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