Gorillaz

The Gorillaz‘ long awaited album Humanz is a smorgasbord of sizzling emotions, provocative questions and hopeful ideals. On one hand you have songs that openly challenge political authorities and on the other you have abstract mysteries that speak to the heart of humanity. Albarn plays more the host than a leading man, offering a colorful space where his closest comrades do all the talking. The deluge of guests unfortunately work against him, diluting a direction that wasn’t altogether clear in the first place.

The production works in typical Gorillaz fashion; an even blend of pop, rock and soul. Each guest is well housed and when it works it soars, but when it doesn’t it sets the album back dramatically. The overall feel is that of disjointed chaos and never is there a moment to fully grasp what is being discussed. Even within songs narratives split, creating a chasm that is too great to overcome. It is an inconsistent effort that is tantamount to having a deep conversation in a loud, obnoxiously over-crowded club.

Ascension

A manic end of the world party that blitzs the line like a sonic Lawrence Taylor. The beat drives forward wildly like a car on fire, a post-apocalyptic battle cry that announces the beginning of the end. Sirens wail while a prophetic choir encourages the rain to come down harder. Vince Staples preaches his gospel, explaining to the his congregation that we were already living in hell: [LISTEN]

Ascension

Strobelite

Sweltering combination of house and disco lead by the magnanimous Peven Everett. Humankind has lost their way, wandering the planet like mindless zombies; faces glowing bright from their digital leashes. The beat demands that the body get up and dance, move and shake itself free from the self-imposed bonds. Everett unleashes the golden pipes and asks that you come with him, freedom beyond the way: [LISTEN]

Strobelite

Saturnz Barz

From hip-hop to r&b to reggae, the Gorillaz are traversing as many landscapes as they can to get their message across. It’s an assault by committee and Popcaan throws his hat in the ring with a verse that melts like hot butter. With 2-D by his side they get to work, preaching that the world we live in is not what we perceive it to be; a palace of mirrors that reflect our subconscious: [LISTEN]

Saturnz Barz

Momentz

A familiar face joins the fray, adding a touch of the abstract to an already wild landscape. Pos is a lyrical gymnast, tucking and rolling through a broken beat with dexterity. He’s analyzing the past and future, and realizing that the only thing that truly exists is the magnificent present. As the speech comes to end the beat grinds even harder, crunching away like the Biz eating cereal: [LISTEN]

Momentz

Submission

Power pop moving at a breakneck pace paves the way for two contrasting perspectives. Kelela‘s sweet voice is like watching a butterfly flutter around in a firestorm, and Danny Brown is a hurricane who knows only one speed: fast. Together they bounce around aimlessly, never really fully aware of the other’s presence. One is talking love and tenderness, the other is slashing at monsters unseen: [LISTEN]

Submission

Charger

A sonic chainsaw tearing through any and everything in its ways. Wielding it is the electric Grace Jones, whose presence is not as prevalent as one would have hoped for. Her dynamic screw-all attitude is a perfect fit, but her erratic presence doesn’t coagulate with what the Gorillaz are trying to achieve. 2-D carries the lyrical load and tries to build a song catering to Jones’ sexual innuendos: [LISTEN]

Charger

Andromeda

Darting across a soundless galaxy at light speed, the Gorillaz quickly find themselves in Andromeda. Love is their compass in this strange and exotic land, and without it they’d be lost. The beat pulses with a familiar air, and 2-D keeps his head on straight by constantly checking in with his heart. The whimsy spins and swirls around in all directions, kicking up cosmic dust and wicked good times: [LISTEN]

Andromeda

Busted and Blue

A blue sun slowly emerges over a black horizon and 2-D stops to marvel at the magnificent sight. The pace slows and the soft melodies create a universal, cosmic melancholy. He’s thinking aloud, wondering where this energy is coming from, how it has connected us and to what end. The feeling is that it could lead to so much good, but in the wrong hands do irreparable damages: [LISTEN]

Busted and Blue

Carnival

The world has descended into a chaotic carnival, a place where the senses are held captive. Anthony Hamilton‘s voice cuts through like acid and he’s warning the world that this spell is only getting stronger, so much so that he himself is lost in its allure. The beat sizzles with intensity and creates a feeling of agitation. It is sensory overload, and the sheeple of the world couldn’t be happier: [LISTEN]

Carnival

Let Me Out

Fists of fury fly from two fiery lyricists. Pusha T moves like Tyson weaving in and out of beats with blinding speed. He’s striking with the anger of a nation and asking very basic questions because there is no need to sugarcoat what is going on. Mavis Staples serves as the all seeing oracle and she’s offering words of wisdom that echo across multiple generations: [LISTEN]

Let Me Out

Sex Murder Party

The bots have observed humankind and concluded that all we think about is sex, murder and partying. It’s a sad state of affairs that draws the ire of 2-D who thinks our priorities are completely out of whack. The next logical question is how did it get to this point, and what is the next step. Humans don’t appear ready to answer, so the bots have moved on leaving us in the dark ages once again: [LISTEN]

Sex Murder Party

She’s My Collar

Forbidden love takes center stage and the Gorillaz embrace it as if it were a way of life. 2-D is up to his neck in infatuation, and he can’t help but follow his love around like a lost puppy dog. He’s chasing her across galaxies hoping that they can rekindle the passion. On the other side, she is just as smitten and hopes he returns soon. A high speed chase that has nothing to do with cars: [LISTEN]

She's My Collar

Hallelujah Money

A cinematic opera that serves as the albums most audacious protest song. There are clear political jabs, but at the center are questions of humanity. The humans of the world have lost their way, and can barely recognize the basic qualities that once made them great. They are becoming something else, and as the transition has unfolded the desire to return to what once was returns: [LISTEN]

Hallelujah

We Got The Power

The answer to the chaos emerges, and it is something that we’ve known all along. Love is what makes us human, and it’ll liberate us from the chains we’ve forged. Humans have lost sight of what love is replacing a kind word and a helping hand for likes and retweets. It starts with the individual, and the willingness to acknowledge their own power; the ability to inspire themselves: [LISTEN]

We Got the Power