Review: Gorillaz – Cracker Island

The eighth studio album from the animated band known as Gorillaz is a pretty thrilling return to form. While their previous effort known as Song Machine: Season One was bit of a bloated collection that hit as often as it missed, Cracker Island wears its influences proudly across multiple genres, and might be their most cohesive album to date. At ten tracks and a running time of under 38 minutes, you can put Cracker Island on when you need a reprieve from the noise of the outside world. The set was produced by Greg Kurstin (Beck, Foo Fighters) at his own studio in Los Angeles, California, and he does a great job in honing in on this band’s strengths. Mainly from the mind of permanent collaborator/lead singer, Damon Albarn, Gorillaz find a nice groove within these Latin-infused beats and crisp production to engulf the listener into a world of pure imagination.

Kicking things off with the title track, a trippy, synth-driven song clouded in mystery about the world you’re about to embark unto, Gorillaz capture the spirit of their early, bulletproof work into a solid re-introduction. The opening lyrics of, “On Cracker Island, it was born / To the collective of the dawn / They were planting seeds at night / To grow a made-up paradise / Where the truth was auto-tuned (Forever cult) / And its sadness I consumed (Forever cult) / Into my formats every day (Forever cult),” are paired with complex beats in the background to keep things interesting from the get-go. “Oil” features a nice cameo by Stevie Nicks, and has a great, pulsating bass line to set the stage for Albarn’s vocal croon. It’s a very 80’s, new wave type of song that takes me back to the days of the Walkman and bright clothing choices. Nicks’ contribution is small, but necessary, as she adds just the right type of mystique to the song.

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Review: Gorillaz – The Now Now

Gorillaz - The Now Now

On Gorillaz latest album, The Now Now, Damon Albarn and company tone down the guest artist slots and take a more serious approach to their songwriting craft. This LP, the sixth total for the group, was recorded in February 2018 and has now hit our eardrums a mere 14 months after the release of Humanz. The results of this strategy are well-rewarded as the Gorillaz have crafted an album sure to please their core audience, while still impressing casual fans of the group.

Every aspect of this album showcases the brilliance of Albarn as a songwriter, and they have re-branded themselves as true “artists” right down to the cover art of the familiar ape playing a guitar as if he just sat down to showcase a few tunes for a coffee shop audience. The first track, which features a guest contributor in George Benson, titled “Humility,” showcases some cool jazzy guitar elements and finds Albarn singing, “Reset myself and get back on track,” which could very well be the overall disclaimer for this album. The Gorillaz have found themselves in a new state of mind for this LP and have come back re-focused on a record worthy of your attention and multiple appearances in your new music rotation.

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