In their new album, Humanz, the Gorillaz’s Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett have transformed the creepy, extra-terrestrial Gorillaz world into an enticing dance album.
The first single, ‘Hallelujah Money’, which was intentionally released on January 19, the day before Trump’s inauguration, increased the anticipation for the album by Gorillaz fans. The band had taken a six-year hiatus from music and there was great excitement for the release of the new album.
Humanz is a jam packed, 26 track album featuring famous musicians from all genres, including Vince Staples, Danny Brown, Pusha T, D.R.A.M., Peven Everett, and even Albarn’s arch nemesis, Noel Gallagher. Each song feels like an individual story of the featured musician and their experience in the Gorillaz’s universe. The songs’ moods vary from the creepy as in ‘Saturnz Barz’ to happy pop anthems like ‘We Got the Power’.
In Jayson Greene’s review of Humanz in Pitchfork, he writes, “[Humanz is] a stew of fat drums, gloomy synth patches, crooned and muttered hooks from Albarn in the background. With this reliable frame, every guest ends up smeared with Gorillaz makeup and bearing a whiff of Suicide Squad-style corporate menace.”
This album also includes quirky interludes to give breaks in between the powerful dance tracks. These interludes reduce the intensity and let the listener know that Damon Albarn does not take himself too seriously. The most notable is ‘The Non-Conformist Oath’. This call and response chant, includes the ironic affirmation “I promise to be unique” and ends with “I promise to not repeat things other people say.” The 22-second track contains powerful social commentary on people’s self-perceptions, a theme explored throughout the album.
In a Rolling Stone review Will Hermes wrote, “According to Albarn, the pre-production prompt for Team Gorillaz was to make party music while imagining ‘how you’d feel if Trump won’—this, months before the unimaginable came to pass.” In the first track, Ascension, Vince Staples sings about the ‘sky falling down’. The post-apocalyptic sounds and themes which can be heard throughout the album make reference to the Trump presidency.
There are references and allusions hidden in every corner of the album. Even the characters on the cover were designed to reference other musicians. Pranav Trewn wrote in Sterogum about the album cover, “From my perspective here are the allusions: 2D is Jack White, Noodle is Björk, Russell is Cee-Lo Green, and Murdoc is Noel Gallagher.”
This album broke Youtube virtual reality history. The Saturn Barz 360 music video received over three million views within the first 48 hours of its release which was a huge success for the Gorillaz and demonstrates the public’s excitement for this album.
The Gorillaz will go on world tour with Humanz this summer in locations such as Quebec, Korea, Luxembourg, and in Chicago at Northerly Island on July 8. With performances of secret tracks from Humanz, this show is predicted to be an event that no one will want to miss.
Featured image credits to Pitchfork Magazine