Artist Of the Month – Gorillaz
The long, strange trip of Gorillaz has never been boring.
It has also never felt more intimate than it does on their latest album The Now Now. The band’s animated characters, provided by Jamie Hewlett, have always provided cover for Damon Albarn to follow his muse into the darkness.
On this follow-up to the guest-laden Humanz, Albarn fearlessly lets us peak at his soul before the cartoon colors are applied. Ironically, The Now Now turns out to be far more human than Humanz ever was and it makes for the best listen since the demon days of 2005.
The decision to ease off the guest appearances pays immediate dividends for Albarn on the brilliant “Tranz” – which rides out of Kraftwerk’s Dusseldorf on a trans-europe express. It is an appropriate reference to a band that invented a future for electronic music in the 1970s. Shifting gears, but still pulling from the same decade, the influence of Parliament and Funkadelic on The Now Now adds a funkiness to the electronic journey on songs like “Hollywood” (featuring Snoop Dogg and Jamie Principle). This blend of psychedelic funk and electronic precision form the core of what Gorillaz do better than anyone else in 2018. The uptown funkiness of “Lake Zurich” and the hazy atmosphere of “One Percent” shimmer from different corners of the Gorillaz universe; and you want to drown in both.
Taking us back and forth across the map from “Idaho” to “Kansas” and eventually back to the magic city of Los Angeles, Albarn’s journey offers us a companion on our own journey through an uncertain “now”. If you strip away the animation and back story of Gorillaz (not that we would!), The Now Now loses nothing as an album which makes it one of Albarn’s best works of art across a career that has never missed the mark. That is why we chose them to be our Artist of the Month!