It’s been a long time coming, but after a six year hiatus, Gorillaz have finally made their long anticipated return with Humanz. From the very first second, it’s clear that this is no normal album, it veers as far away from the mundane as possible. Whilst there are strong vibes of modern R&B and Hip-Hop, it definitely doesn’t feel like one of those albums, and it melds as many genres as possible into the mix. In fact, pretty much the entire album is extremely danceable from start to finish, with it’s high BPM. Even in the slower moments it has somewhat of a danceable vibe.

There’s all kinds of crazy vibes across this album, but that’s what makes it unmistakeably Gorillaz. Damon Albarn has always had a knack for turning mainstream music on it’s head, and with Jamie Hewlett bringing the iconic characters to life, it was always bound to keep the vibrance going. This time round, these elements have been reinvented, taking inspiration from pretty much all styles of pop music from the past six years, to bring the project up-to-date for the modern generation. Although it does it in a way that definitely makes Humanz stand out from the crowd. This is all backed up with it’s star-studded line-up of guest vocalists, including Vince Staples, Popcaan, De La Soul, Grace Jones and Benjamin Celementine. I admit, I’m not too knowledgeable on a lot of the artists featuring on this album, as this style isn’t usually my forte, but they definitely feel at the forefront, making them clearly excellent choices.

Opener “Ascension” has a very hip-hop focus to it, whilst managing a chaotic, apocalyptic feel. Lead single, “Starburnz Barz”, I wasn’t too keen on initially, but it has grown on me, and I feel it’s a great track. It has a haunting feel to it, whilst utilizing upbeat Trip-Hop influences to create a hit. “Momentz” was one of the biggest surprises for me, as it turned out to be a pretty hard sounding electro stomper. “Charger” has a very rock feel to it, utilising distorted guitar riffs, and 2D‘s [Damon Albarn‘s] vocals resonating with it in a peculiar way. Tracks like “Busted and Blue” and “She’s My Collar” have more melancholy feelings to them, whilst “Andromeda” and closer “We Got the Power” are very old-school Gorillaz style tracks. The thing is, these descriptions are merely scratching the surface. There’s the addition of spoken interludes throughout the course of the record’s 49 minutes, and it gets weirder from there (in a good way, of course!) Damon Albarn has a strange presence, with him sometimes feeling more in-focus, and at others he’s barely there at all. I guess it shows just how much of a collaborative project this has become, but I’d have liked to heard some tracks with him taking lead on vocal duties.

Overall, Humanz is a great album. That said, whilst it does make an excellent commentary on the follies of today’s society, its a shame that Albarn opted to edit out references to Donald Trump. It already makes enough statements, so why back out of the full package? Then again, perhaps sometimes a subtle approach is best. I have to say that this feels like the best Gorillaz album since 2005’s Demon Days, but as for hitting the level of that, and the bands self-titled debut, it doesn’t quite hit the mark. There’s some absolutely excellent tracks on this one though, and listening from start to finish is a very unique journey.

Final Verdict: Gorillaz make a triumphant return! Whilst it’s not on the same level as their classic albums, Humanz is definitely the band’s best since Demon Days. It takes inspiration from the entire spectrum of the pop genre to create a monster. A wild, crazy fusion of genres, that will keep you enthralled and dancing until the very last note.

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Track list:

Intro: I Switched My Robot Off

  1. Ascension f. Vince Staples

  2. Strobelite

  3. Saturn Barz f. Popcaan

  4. Momentz f. De La Soul

  5. Interlude: The Non-Comformist Oath

  6. Submission f. Danny Brown & Kelela

  7. Charger f. Grace Jones

  8. Interlude: Elevator Going Up

  9. Andromeda f. D.R.A.M.

  10. Busted and Blue

  11. Interlude: Talk Radio

  12. Carnival f. Anthony Hamilton

  13. Let Me Out f. Pusha T & Mavis Staples

  14. Interlude: Penthouse

  15. Sex Murder Party f. Jamie Principle and Zebra Katz

  16. She’s My Collar f. Kali Uchis

  17. Interlude: The Elephant

  18. Hallelujah Money f. Benjamin Clementine

  19. We Got The Power f. Jehnny Beth

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