ALBUM REVIEW: Gorillaz – Humanz

humanz-58d7d64208e38Seven years after the release of their last proper studio album, Plastic Beach, Gorillaz are back with their brand new album Humanz. Rumours of this album began to surface two years ago while Damon Albarn was touring with Blur and those rumours escalated last year with confirmed reports that he was in the studio working on a new album. The result is Humanz, a wonderful album that sees Gorillaz return to their very best.

After an interlude intro, the opening song is Ascension which was one of the four songs to be released from the album on the 23rd March. It’s a superb opening song with guest vocals by Vince Staples. I wasn’t massively taken with this song when it first dropped but it has grown on me considerably since then and it’s a great song to open the album with. Catchy, full of hooks, it’s great. The next song is Strobelite which was heard and played for the first time at the secret gig at Printworks in London and the first thing you notice about this song is the funky bass playing throughout. If you’re foot isn’t tapping within seconds of the song starting there’s something seriously wrong with you. Saturnz Barz follows which to my ears at least is probably the most Gorillaz sounding song on the whole album when you compare the sounds of previous albums, especially their 2001 debut Gorillaz. The feel of the song is exquisite and while it took me a few listens to get used to the sound of the guest vocals, I’ve been totally won over. Damon Albarn’s singing sections are what makes the song so great though, Gorillaz with him taking such a lead role are always fantastic.

  1. Intro: I Switched My Robot Off
  2. Ascension
  3. Strobelite
  4. Saturnz Barz
  5. Momentz
  6. Interlude: The Non-Conformist Oath
  7. Submission
  8. Charger
  9. Interlude: Elevator Going Up
  10. Andromeda
  11. Busted And Blue
  12. Interlude: Talk Radio
  13. Carnival
  14. Let Me Out
  15. Interlude: Penthouse
  16. Sex Murder Party
  17. She’s My Collar
  18. Interlude: The Elephant
  19. Hallelujah Money
  20. We Got The Power

De La Soul make an appearance on the next song, Momentz, after performing on Demon Days (Feel Good Inc.) and Plastic Beach (Superfast Jellyfish). From hearing a recording of their secret London show this is one of the songs that really stood out to me and hearing the studio version has cemented the song as one of my favourites on the whole album. It’d make a great single and is as catchy as hell. Another interlude comes next called Interlude: The Non-Conformist Oath which is followed by Submission which features Graham Coxon on guitar. The guitar isn’t that easy to hear but it’s there if you listen very carefully. It’s a very good song. Grace Jones makes a guest appearance on the next song Charger which I first heard in demo form roughly a month ago. Since then I’ve been dying to hear the studio version and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s a great track with some aggressive guitars leading the way before Damon Albarn gives one of his most exciting vocal performances on the whole album.

After another interlude called Interlude: Elevator Going Up comes Andromeda, my favourite of the four songs that were initially released last month. It remains a firm favourite from the album which is something that will never change. I already consider it one of my all-time favourite Gorillaz songs. It’s perfect, there’s really no other way to describe it. After that incredible dance track comes a more laid back and thought provoking song called Busted And Blue. This is probably the least Gorillaz sounding song on the whole album with a chord progression that sounds similar to Blur’s There Are Too Many Of Us from their 2015 album The Magic Whip. But it really sounds good and in the same vibe as El Mañana and On Melancholy Hill. Interlude: Talk Radio follows before the next song Carnival begins. As it stands right now this is one of three songs I’m still warming to but I know after a few more listens I’m going to absolutely love it.

Let Me Out is the next song which features Mavis Staples and Pusha T on guest vocals. This was the most recent song to be released individually and I’ll admit that I wasn’t taken with it upon first listen, but on the album as a whole I think it sounds fantastic. Mavis Staples really does wonders here and really highlights Albarn’s unique ability to pick guest singers to work with on Gorillaz albums. Sex Murder Party comes next after Interlude: Penthouse and it’s the second of three songs I’m still warming to. It’s certainly not single material but calling it a filler track would be disrespectful. Every song on the album so far has really made the thing as a whole sound so good, and Sex Murder Party adds to the greatness in its own way. She’s My Collar comes next which is absolutely gorgeous. From the recording of the London secret show this is one of the songs that caught my attention immediately. Damon Albarn sounds great but the whole song is seriously wonderful and one of the many highlights.

After the final interlude, Interlude: The Elephant, comes the song that I am still on the fence about. Hallelujah Money was the first song to be released from the album back in January and when I heard it then I absolutely detested it, mainly down to the guest vocalist. And while I’m still not a fan of the vocals the song definitely makes more sense in an album format than it does as an individual song. It’s inclusion so close to the end of the album makes sense as well as I don’t believe it would sound as good if it had been placed earlier on on the album. We Got The Power is the last song which features Noel Gallagher on backing vocals. He’s difficult to hear but he’s there. This song really rounds off the album nicely, putting an enjoyable full stop at the end of this incredible effort from Gorillaz.

Overall I’m finding it very difficult to find anything negative about this album. Humanz is just what Gorillaz needed after a slightly disappointing Plastic Beach and a nearly forgettable The Fall album which was recorded on the road when they toured in 2010. It is absolutely incredible. There are a number of songs that definitely work by themselves but I really think the songs work best when listening to the album as a whole. From start to finish the album is nothing short of exciting and enjoyable and reminds me a lot of their 2005 album Demon Days when it comes to consistency from start to finish. Demon Days remains their best album in my opinion, but Humanz comes very close. It’s fantastic.

9/10

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