Album of the Week: Gorillaz,'The Now Now'


Gorillaz, 'The Now Now'
Gorillaz, 'The Now Now' (Courtesy of artist)
David Safar - Album of the Week: Gorillaz, 'The Now Now'
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Gorillaz are the greatest virtual band on the planet. Created as the brainchild of Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, the original animated 4-piece debuted at the start of the 21st Century and have since gone on to become an international hit. While the times have changed, Gorillaz seem to be timeless. Untouched by the earthly concerns of us humans, the now 5-piece band consistently releases albums and songs with concepts and themes that are more appropriate for a modern fairytale or comic book than the stage. That could be why the band has waned in popularity even though their past three releases are some of the best albums of the decade.

"The Now Now" is Gorillaz's 6th studio album and the second to break the mold of the original model of a virtual band with many real-world guests. Like "The Fall," the new album is more focused on the virtual characters and their emotional responses to the physical world. According to interviews with Albarn, the album was written while on the road so that the band would have more material to add to their live shows. The result is a more Albarn centered collection of songs that are expressed by his virtual avatar, 2-D. While critics might peg the release as more of an experiment in Albarn's solo work and some of the work not completed by Blur on "The Magic Whip," the new album is unmistakably the Gorillaz.

While there are fewer guests on "The Now Now," the ones who do appear are typical of how a Gorillaz album should come together. The lead single features the living jazz guitar legend, George Benson who is hardly a household name in 2018. That's the genius part of Damon Albarn's work behind the band. He takes artists who he knows to be some of the greatest on the planet and elevates them via the virtual band experience. Similarly, he invited lesser known Chicago house producer and DJ Jamie Principle to guest alongside Snoop Dogg on the song "Hollywood." That combination of mega celebrity with musical star power is part of the DNA of the group and something that very few others can pull off.

After multiple listens to "The Now Now," the beauty of what happens on a Gorillaz album is the juxtaposition of heavy handed electronic music influences next to the rock and ambient moments that you would expect from the band's lead singer. That's part of the concept behind the virtual band. There are no boundaries for what can be included on a Gorillaz album, and that's what you hear on "The Now Now".


Gorillaz - Official Site

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