Gorillaz - Humanz
The Gorillaz always seem to resurface when the world seems to be at it's most chaotic. Their formula (I am not going to even try to separate the cartoon band from their creators Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, because who can keep track at this point). Their formula is almost an institution at this point with people getting antsy for something new every five years or so. Throw in some heavy hitting features from the day, trippy hip hop beats and a few cartoons and boom new Gorillaz is here. This new record Humanz does not do much to expand the Gorillaz's sound and instead they stay pretty tight to what the previous albums have done. Yet they make this kind of music at such a high level that you can't help but buy in, if not always fully. "Charger" is the first real missed opportunity, where Grace Jones is criminally underutilized and the two note guitar riff extends into eternity. This is one thing the Gorillaz tend to do, they become so enamoured with a sound that they play it over and over even if it is not making an impact. "Andromeda" however is the perfect track for D.R.A.M. its funky, a bit housey and has enough lightness to keep everyone interested. "Sex Murder Party" is so downtempo and so long that it is nearly impossible to stay interested in as the songs goes on. The later half of the record is definitely much more lethargic and shows that this record for Albarn is likely more of a playlist for oblivion rather than a real album.
I have to say that this review is peppered with my own taste, because in all honesty I've never really gotten the Gorillaz. What about them makes them more appealing than Albarn as a solo artist? Why are the cartoons necessary? I get how appealing the weirdness is, but this far on it just seems like the gimmick has outworn it's welcome. I don't really give a shit about they individual cartoons' backstory or personalities, because it literally has zero impact on anything besides videos. What I find the most frustrating is that the music does stand on it's own without the big show, so why keep it up? The Gorillaz are certainly letting us groove our way into the apocalypse, and "Hallelujah Money" feels like Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" version was put through a despair machine but in the best way. "We Got the Power" is another great little pop song, but comes far to late in the record to make the kind of impact that it should. Perhaps it is best that the Gorillaz only show up every so often so that we don't get oversaturated by the gimmick, but this album does manage to stay out of the parody realm. Humanz has some solid tracks but it also shows some of the cracks the Gorillaz have in their game.
6.0 out of 10