Gorillaz politically charged perspective offers little hope for the future
With a single musician and a single cartoonist making up the core of the group, a Gorillaz album is an odd cultural product that works not just as music, but also as a commentary on the state of the industry.
There has been something special about this digitally crafted, hip-hop/rock ensemble from the beginning.
The breadth of space between their records (their last LP, The Fall, came out in 2010) assists in lending prominence to each and every release they unleash.
The world has seen vast changes since Gorillaz released their first single, “Clint Eastwood”, in 2001.
It was a musical space that was ruled by Lifehouse’s “Hanging by a Moment”: a substantive phase of post-90s pop rock, with crooning Rob Thomas-esque voices blaring overtop of jangly, softly-distorted guitars.
But Gorillaz set themselves apart as a funky, hip-hop and rock blend.
Boasting the vocals of Blur’s Damon Albarn as the lead character, the timely cartoon videos and the cool music shook up the industry.
In the time since, they’ve only become bigger and bigger.
Maybe that’s why Humanz, the latest installment from the fictional band, feels so flat.
Instead of vaulting off any kind of creative inspiration, the group opted for something that sounds as dull and monotonous as anything else experiencing success on the radio.
Humanz feels more like a victory lap; an album for an album’s sake. Not any kind of passion project.
Worse than that, Humanz is an LP about accepting defeat.
They are a tribute to defeatism that fails to ring any notes of sincerity. There isn’t a moment where Humanz feels like a Gorillaz album.
Written in early 2016 as a projection of an impossible world where Donald Trump somehow won the American presidency, the present reality makes the dark, defeated philosophy strewn throughout the LP seem devoid of hope.
“The sky’s falling baby/Drop that ass ‘fore it crash” and “We got the power to be loving each other/No matter what happens we got the power to do that.”
Both just prescribe simple, hedonistic methods of coping within a terrible world. Humanz is not a cohesive album — the entire project is misdirected and just not good.
There’s no “Stylo,” no “Clint Eastwood,” just a series of bland tracks that blend together into a forgettable way to make 49 minutes feel even longer.
“Saturn Barz,” the lead single, puts the group in the background, and functions more as a Popcaan track than a Gorillaz one.
They are a tribute to defeatism that fails to ring any notes of sincerity.There isn’t a moment where Humanz feels like a Gorillaz album; it’s more of a homogenized playlist with some cool moments and a lot of filler.
Conceptually, it’s interesting, though mostly dull. Humanz feels like a misdirected effort for the world’s greatest fictional band; it’s a record of defeat dedicated to an age that needs exactly the opposite.