Gorillaz – Humans Review 

In true Gorillaz style, while facing huge political scandal and contentiousness, Damon Albarn, Jamie Hewlett and the cartoon clan reappear with their new album Humanz: as if to say ‘yes, the world may be going down the drain, but at least you’ll have the perfect playlist to listen to as we all go down with it.’ In an LP exploring both the beauty and the hideousness of human life, this bitter-sweet composition is powerful in its messages, yet falters in its execution.

Humanz is an apt title for an album in which such an eclectic range of individuals congregate to share their talent and experiences. From the punchy, dominant rap of Pusha T to the feathery whispers of D.R.A.M, Humanz truly is a celebration of what individuals have to offer. We are given glimpses of multiple perspectives, such as from black people in America (Ascension); the unnerving juxtapositions of these stories paired with the upbeat robotic backing tracks are statements in themselves towards the political doom the tracklist illustrates.

Gorillaz comeback single – Hallelujah Money, featuring Benjamin Clementine – was a soft riot of a track upon its release on the eve of Trump’s inauguration. It’s slow, wispy and poetic; a passive-aggressive declaration. This suitably precedes the standard tracklist’s closing number, We Got The Power – the album’s most hopeful tune. It’s bold both in its prevailing claps and formidable synths, but also in it vocals, as Jehnny Beth jubilantly roars the lyrics, alongside a cameo appearance from Noel Gallagher, putting aside the Brit-pop enmity for this much-needed spirit-booster. After all the stories of despondency, feelings of inferiority and worry about the Internet’s power, We Got The Power ties the album up with a unifying and revitalising bow.

With diverse styles comes a range of musical influences. Heated reggae teems in Saturnz Barz through Popcaan’s distinctive vocals. Pure mechanical hip hop takes hold on Momentz. Carnival, featuring Anthony Hamilton, is slick and soulful. Busted and Blue takes a whole different approach in it’s quiet melancholy. Although the disjointed feel given by the mismatch of genres well represents the idea of the insecurity and unpredictability that delivers the foundations for this album, it sounds just that – disjointed. And not in a good way. Having said that, songs like Busted and Blue and, my personal favourite, Andromeda, have a chilled edge to them that offer an opportune break between much more party-appropriate tracks. Each individual song is good – cleverly written and instrumentally sound – but the sheer amount of them makes for a busy and overflowing tracklist.

Overall, Gorillaz’s new release is quite what I expected – unique, computerised, political. But whether it’s been pulled off in the right way is debateable.

Gorillaz – Humanz: 7/10

Ellie Chivers

Single Reviews – Gorillaz – Saturnz Barz, Ascension, We Got the Power and Andromeda

After a long 6-year break, Gorillaz co-creator Damon Albarn promised a new direction in terms of the virtual band’s style. The four new tracks that dropped hours after the announcement of Humanz definitely seem to indicate this, with simmering hip-hop and hints of house.

Gorillaz have a knack for fusing genres together, and Saturnz Barz is a true symbol of this great gift. It’s dark and grungy, whilst still incorporating a flamboyance through the bouncing reggae-rap vocals Popcaan provides, driven by a sizzling bass and otherworldly synths. The track has an interesting hip-hop edge, with a bit of robotic eighties/nineties-ness bubbling up towards the end; this intermingling ties perfectly into the mysterious ambience Gorillaz feed upon.

Andromeda is the closest to house these four newbies get, with its effervescent intergalactic warps and echoic vocals. The track immediately draws listeners in with funky percussion and swimming synths, and with its infectious chorus, it’ll be one to have stuck in your head for days. The soft voice of D.R.A.M blended with Albarn’s own compliments the mechanical feel of the track, giving the song a tinge of something quite unique and quite brilliant.

Vince Staples gives his vocals to Ascension, the track with the most vitality. Staples’ manic rap sprints alongside throbbing beats, with a catchy chorus and bursts of unpredictability interwoven throughout. Despite having so much energy, I think this is the weakest track – it doesn’t have a whole lot of substance and is extremely repetitive. Gorillaz’s incredible power to captivate seems to be lost on this one.

We Got The Power completely conflicts the messages Hallelujah Money puts across – the anti-Trump protest track released the night before his inauguration – in its unifying lyrics and spirited splendour. The muted tones of Damon Albarn beautifully contrast the animated joy Jehnny Beth delivers. It brilliantly allegorises the coming-together of all sorts of people, carried by bold, toe-tapping beats.

The album title of Humanz has been chosen well; the theme of being human snakes evidently through these new releases, giving several perspectives in each offering. Even when inundated with electronica, the very raw ‘human’ element brings these tracks right back down to earth – a huge, huge asset and something the diverse temperament of Gorillaz could only really yield.

Eleanor Chivers 

This Weeks Music Video with Gorillaz, The Weeknd feat. Daft Punk, Weezer, Perfume Genius, The Shins and James Blake