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Many people know me as the second coming of darkness, mainly because I just tend to dislike your favorite things. Deal with it. But you know, sometimes, it’s even hard for me to form an opinion. That has regularly been the finding for me when I approach the most confusing band I’ve ever listened to. Don’t get me wrong, I respect the Gorillaz and what they stand for, even when I don’t necessarily love all their songs. I’m a big fan of their self-titled debut, and their masterpiece Demon Days, but when it comes to Plastic Beach and The Fall, I’m less interested, but I salute their never-ending creativity.
Damon Albarn, the musical head of the virtual project, has consistently made me scratch my head at the sound of their songs. I seriously cannot understand how most of their songs were ever written. They come out the random corners of acid trips, followed by a 90 minute lecture by some boring old librarian about the method of DVD case manufacturing in the plastic factories of bumblefuck. Did any of that make sense? If you said yes, you’ve become equivalent to my future hemorrhoids.
So why take all this time just to discuss who the Gorillaz are? Well it’s fun and also just to prepare you for what their latest album Humanz is and isn’t. First off I’ll just say that yes, I adore this album. But I’ll also say, that it is the least “Gorillaz esque” off all albums they’ve released. Gorillaz’ virtual members meant to be a 4 piece rock group, and on their other albums, FOR THE MOST PART, the music kinda matches it. On Humanz, this isn’t really the case. A lot of the drums are techno and there isn’t much guitar or bass personality present either. The same goes for virtual singer 2D, who really doesn’t sing lead on any of the songs. While guest artists were splattered all over the previous Gorillaz records, 2D was still a singer with a strong leading presence, and he really isn’t here. On some songs, he doesn’t appear, and sometimes, he just sings one very faint line.
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So after complaining about that, I’ll undo it. Because while it may be a problem that there isn’t as much of a “Gorillaz” vibe to the record, the songs are still REALLY DAMN FANTASTIC! Songs like “Stroblite” and “Momentz” are so catchy and addictive that I can’t stop playing them. My ears have started ringing longer that usual. The first half of Humanz is intense and dark, making me feel like I was getting yelled at by my RA for making too much negligent noise, when I was really just practicing my beautiful singing. The second half is more mellow and slow, and while it got a little too slow at times, the songs are still captivating, and carry the themes of frustration and desire for change all the way through.
The production is very pop and hiphop oriented, which of course makes me miss some live drums. It’s my main complaint with Kendrick’s new album. I won’t say more on that. The guest artists all earn their spot on this record though. Not a single one felt thrown in and they all give their unique personality to their song. That’s what Gorillaz maintains the strongest on Humanz; each song has it’s own living personality. It would seem like that should be an obvious trait for most albums of any musician, but when you have as many guest artists as Gorillaz does, you need to make sure each one really stands out, and they all do beautifully. I’m very puzzled though as to how they’re going to perform this album live. I know Gorillaz always does bizarre things with their lives shows, very often not showing the musicians on stage, but on this album, the DJ friendly music wouldn’t necessarily require a giant live band like they’ve done in the past. But I also hope that when I see them in August, they will have some cool surprises waiting for me. And Gorillaz live, is very different from recording. Compare their masterpiece song “All Alone” live vs studio if you don’t believe me.
Today, Elliot’s ears are angry that he’s still listening to this album.