Gorillaz – The Now Now Review

I was quite worried when I heard that a new Gorillaz album would be coming so soon after the last, with the collab-heavy Humanz being released just over a year ago in April 2017. There was no need to worry.

A lot has changed since 2017 in the world of Gorillaz, with Murdoc currently in Jail and temporarily replaced by Ace, ex-traumatiser of the Powerpuff Girls. This has left 2D in charge of the music, and with the album we have got out of it I wouldn’t rush to free Murdoc.

Opening track and lead single Humility is a lovely, bouncy, summery song that features George Benson and is very catchy indeed; the song’s slick, shimmery production continues throughout the album and the quality of the tracks is consistently brilliant.

Second track Tranz is an album highlight, a complete contrast to the breezy Humility, it is a dark, groovy synth track that shows how varied and interesting a Gorillaz project can be without the need for an onslaught of features.  Hollywood is another groovy cut, featuring Humanz staple Jamie Principle and a great verse from Snoop that elevates the track. The half spoken/sung chorus really works well with the instrumental here as it’s not too over the top.

Another highlight on the album for me is Idaho. A country ballad of sorts, the track sounds amazingly peaceful and grand without being at all bland, being very simple on the surface, but with each listen you notice another little layer there.

Usually i’m not a fan of instrumental tracks, especially in an album context. Lake Zurich is just too much of a bop to ignore though, and instantly becoming one of the most memorable songs off the album.

The album closes with a trio of slower songs, each managing to sound different to the next, with One Percent sounding like a sad distress call from space and Souk Eye’s slow fade out xylophone giving me the feeling of the end of a great movie or gig that you don’t want to end.

This is the best Damon project since 2010’s Plastic Beach, and he has massively topped Humanz, which while I still enjoyed really doesn’t compare much to this.

96%

Best Three: Tranz, Idaho, Souk Eye

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The 17 Best Music Videos of 2017

The 17 music videos below are my favourites from the year in no particular order!

Stormzy – Blinded By Your Grace pt. 2

A really heartwarming video that highlights the positive message that flows through the track; showing real community spirit and people coming together through the power of song.

Django Django – Tic Tac Toe

A fun, stop motiony video from Django Django, showing just how far some people will go for a cup of tea. Worth it though.    Directed by  John Maclean

Gorillaz – Garage Palace

A brilliant arcade inspired visualiser from Gorillaz filled with easter eggs for fans of the band for the intense Little Simz collaboration ‘Garage Palace’  Directed by Noah Harris

Sunflower Bean – I Was A Fool

In this brilliantly directed video, Sunflower Bean play at a classic American school dance. Directed by Andy DeLuca

Glass Animals – Agnes

Dave from Glass Animals is in a big centrifuge singing the most emotional song from their 2016 album ‘How To Be A Human Being’ Directed By Eoin Glaister

Tayla – Coming Back Around

Tayla gets chucked around in a very nice car in this fun video for the insanely catchy ‘Coming Back Around’ Directed by Xiphi 

Alvvays – In Undertow

Alvvays get spacey in this dreamy video that perfectly captures the mood of the track. Directed by Joe Garrity

The Weeknd ft. Daft Punk – I Feel It Coming

This retro inspired video is relatively simple, but really effective – matching the mood and tone of the song perfectly. Daft Punk look really cool in capes too. Directed by Warren Fu

Dua Lipa – New Rules

This brilliantly choreographed and shot video surely helped to propel this track to #1 for two weeks earlier this year. Directed by Henry Scholfield

Gorillaz – Saturnz Barz

This beautifully animated video signalled the return of Gorillaz after 7 years, with Saturnz Barz being the first single from their latest album, Humanz. Directed by Jamie Hewlett

Kendrick Lamar – Humble

One of the best directed videos of the year, Humble features one incredible shot after the other, all perfectly fitting in with the track, which is a banger.

Father John Misty – Total Entertainment Forever

This bizzare but brilliant video starts Macaulay Culkin as Kurt Cobain.

 

Paramore – Told You So

Paramore have had a great year, with After Laughter being their best album in a long time. ‘Told You So’ was my favourite track from that album, and it comes with this great video.  Directed by Zac Farro and Aaron Joseph

Lorde – Green Light

This year Lorde finally made a comeback after her 2013 debut Pure Heroine. ‘Green Light’ instantly became one of the biggest tracks of the year when it was released, and the accompanying video was bursting with energy. Directed by Grant Singer

Dutch Uncles – Oh Yeah

‘Oh Yeah’ by Dutch Uncles is an upbeat track full of hope, and this fun, roller based video is a real treat. Duncan can move. Directed by Nick Middleton

The Big Moon – Sucker

The Big Moon go all western in this funny, really well directed video for their great single ‘Sucker’. Directed by Louis Bhose

Wolf Alice – Beautifully Unconventional

Wolf Alice go all old school in this great video for Beautifully Unconventional. Directed by Stephen Agnew

Gorillaz – Humanz Review.

Gorillaz albums have always been about collaborations, with their previous album Plastic Beach featuring the likes of Lou Reed, De La Soul, Little Dragon, Gruff Rhys and Kano. Humanz is no different in this sense, with the album only having one track without a featured artist. They also tend to change their sound with each record while still maintaining

The first of these many features you hear on the album is Californian rapper Vince Staples, who dominates most of the high paced opening track ‘Ascension’, with Damon Albarn only popping up momentarily for a verse in the middle of the song.

Main single ‘Saturnz Barz’ with Jamie XX collaborator Popcaan is the first track on which you really hear Damon’s vocals used to their full potential, and they really do compliment Popcaan’s main verses well, especially towards the end of the song.

‘Momentz’ featuring long time collaborators De La Soul highlights why they work so well together, with the witty, slightly off-kilter verses from the hip hop trio making for another great track from Gorillaz and De La Soul.

Humanz has interludes scattered throughout it by Star Wars: Rogue One actor Ben Mendelsohn, and in my opinion they are a bit distracting from the flow of the album in places, with the majority of them feeling shoehorned in; one of them is a two second clip of him saying ”Elevator Going Up”. However there are a select few of these that do add to the album, with the ‘Non-Conformist Oath’ before Danny Brown featuring track ‘Submission’ working very well.

That track, featuring Kelela alongside Danny Brown, is one of the strongest cuts on ‘Humanz.’ Kelela sings the majority of the track before Danny comes in with some amazing bars at the end.

2-D and co. have always been ones to use upcoming or underground artists, like Kano back on 2010’s Plastic Beach, in their tracks alongside legends such as Lou Reed and Bobby Womack, and the inclusion of D.R.A.M, Benjamin Clementine and Kali Uchis alongside Grace Jones and Mavis Staples continues this tradition.

‘Andromeda ft. D.R.A.M. is another album highlight for me, with it being a melancholy track with beautiful vocals from Albarn as well as having a very catchy synth line throughout the song.

Following on from ‘Andromeda’ is ‘Busted and Blue’. A sad, beautiful ballad with a minimal, spacy backing track that continues the run of great tracks on the album that sadly comes to an end with ‘Carnival’ which just sounds jumbled and dull.

‘Let Me Out’ is a great example of how Gorillaz bring unlikely artists together to make a great track, with Mavis Staples and Pusha T featuring. However, following that is another lackluster track called ‘Sex Murder Party’ that, similar to ‘Carnival’, is just dull and would be better off as a B-Side.

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The album finishes on its strongest track, with Jehnny Beth from Savages and Noel Gallagher coming together with Gorillaz to make an upbeat anthem of hope and unity that brings the project to a close.

Overall, Humanz is very good. There are a few unnecessary tracks and interludes that slow the album down but when it gets going, it’s really, really good.

89%

Best 3: Andromeda, Submission, We Got The Power.