Gorillaz: The Now Now Album Review

Story posted October 31, 2018 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by Owen Paiva

This album originally came out on June 29, 2018 to positive reviews from fans and critics alike.

Following the mess of different themes and over fifteen collaborators that constituted 2017’s incoherent party playlist that was Humanz, Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett’s virtual band decided to dive into funk and synth pop on The Now Now, with Albarn, in particular, addressing the fan outcry from his subdued presence on the previous record, since one of the main complaints was not enough 2D, the virtual band’s singer. For those who do not know, Gorillaz is a way for Albarn to experiment without being the public face. The band consists of four members, the Brit 2D, Japanese guitarist Noodle, Brooklyn born drummer Russell Hobbs and filling in for the incarcerated Murdoc on bass is Ace from the Powerpuff Girls.

The album focuses on the theme of isolation, and Albarn’s fears of the modern world and that people need to come together and help each other through it. The lead track, “Humility,” has one of three features with George Benson on guitar for this track. This track boasts an impressive video with 2D roller skating around and singing, Jack Black rocking on guitar and many callbacks to the lore of the Gorillaz. Damon as 2D is front and center throughout the album.

“Idaho” is a beautiful ballad on the beauty of nature and was written by Albarn at Bruce Willis’ private ski lodge in the titular state. On this track, Damon is at his vocal best, delivering a soulful and emotional performance, commenting on his disillusion with Hollywood and the contrast between nature and civilization. He longs for the peace of nature, where he does not have to care about superficial problems.

Albarn’s later work with Gorillaz, on Blur’s The Magic Whip, and on his solo album, Everyday Robots have this happy and mellow sounding instrumental style with depressing and retrospective lyrics contrasting into a great blend. Humility boasts a summer pop sound that will be an earworm to many people with George Benson’s funky riffs. “Tranz” is a synthpop bop that entertains throughout. “Idaho” and “Kansas” have more of a country ballad and bluegrass flair respectively, but through the themes of the album, the different musical influences blend and gives the track listing some much-needed cohesion after the last album.

Albarn is always playing with styles, but in particular, he loves boom-bap percussion like on “Lake Zurich” and the 90’s synth-pop sound. This album feels like finally, he found a way to mesh it with Gorillaz compared to in the past. Albarn is known for his ability to craft happy sounding melancholy, and this album follows the trend of his more recent work.

For Gorillaz fans who love Albarn’s unique voice, this album was a pure treat but doesn’t feel particularly new, even if it is super enjoyable. When coming off hiatuses, finding one’s style is sometimes hard, as was evident on Humanz, but The Now Now is a return to proper form and is a positive indication of what’s to come if Albarn ever returns to his virtual project. He is working on a new album for one of his many forays, The Good, The Bad and The Queen, and don’t be surprised if a new Blur album is on the horizon. The Now Now is a great choice for those wanting a mellow sounding album.

Rating: 7/10

 

 

Owen Paiva is a sophomore majoring in film/video. To contact him, email owenpaiva@sbcglobal.net.