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A 6 year wait turned disappointment, Gorillaz: Humanz

Kitt Fresa, News Editor

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After a six year wait Gorillaz have finally made their return with a vast album filled with guest appearances, however it creates an experience that betrays what Gorillaz has always been true to.

 

For most of its career, Gorillaz has established a certain mystique, an ominous vibe of superb music that cuts through the rest of the crowded lists of artists. Through “Demon Days,” Gorillaz tapped into something not many other bands had before. They made their own genre. The sounds off that album were new, exciting and breathed even more life into a time of music that has mainly upheld by Rap. But the spot where Gorillaz had placed themselves on music’s wide range of genres was uncharted territory. To try and throw Gorillaz into a previously established genre was difficult to narrow down. They weren’t something that had already been done before, and that’s what people from all over the world fell in love with.

 

Gorillaz’ last album, “Plastic Beach,” was released in 2010 and once again showed how great Gorillaz can be. Songs like “On Melancholy Hill” and “Stylo” captured audience’s ears once again after their earlier work. “Plastic Beach” was excellent, but it didn’t quite reach the same level of greatness that “Demon Days” achieved.  

 

After the mad success of “Demon Days”, Gorillaz released some smaller and weirder collections, a few years later “Plastic Beach,” and then faded into darkness. Gorillaz had been vacuum sealed in greatness in their absence from the music scene. For six years that seal has lasted, until now. “Humanz” has just been released and has reopened that long-awaited seal of greatness. Unfortunately though, Humanz doesn’t live up to what Gorillaz has worked so hard to establish.

In fact, it feels like in this world of synonymous music that Gorillaz has always escaped,  is now what Gorillaz is trying to be apart of. The album, as a whole, sounds familiar, but too much like something Gorillaz isn’t. “Humanz” is an album so different from their previous work that it’s difficult to decipher whether it’s really them. That’s because almost the entire album isn’t them. Only one song lacks a feature, “Busted and Blue.” The rest of the album is crutched by countless features. That’s not to say features can’t be great, but Gorillaz takes it too far. It feels like not only have they conformed to the plain normals of synonymous music, but they’ve also recruited its help in making this oversaturated album.

All’s not lost though. There are songs in “Humanz” that sound iconically true to Gorillaz.

 

“Charger,” featured with long-lost 80’s mega star Grace Jones, feels very new and rare to Gorillaz. It sounds closer to Nine Inch Nails than any of their previous work, but it sounds great anyways. Grace Jones’ iconic evil laugh combined with a heavy guitar, electronics and vocals from Damon Albarn make this song sound evil but exciting at the same time.

 

The best song on the album, “Andromeda” featured with D.R.A.M.,  feels like a trip back to “Plastic Beach.” The light and quick electronics combined with Demon Albarn’s very recognizable vocals take Gorillaz fans back to what their music used to be, but with an updated style. It feels like it was the admirable direction Gorillaz wanted with the album, but failed to really nail.

The most important song on this album, though, is “Saturn Barz” because of how split it is between what Gorillaz used to be and what it is now. The beat sounds updated but ominous and classic. It sounds very close to something Deltron 3030 would have rapped over, most likely because Dan Nakamura is from both Deltron 3030 and Gorillaz, and is likely to have had an influence over that particular beat. However, it’s the vocals where the disconnect lies. Rapped over by Popcaan, a Jamaican reggae star, “Saturn Barz” feels like two different songs played on top of each other. Popcaan’s vocals just sound ultimately contrary to Gorillaz’ beat, and it takes a song that could have been amzing into something that just has a great beat. Popcaan is by no means a bad artist. This song just feels like it’s two worlds colliding that don’t mix at all.

 

For the majority of this album I found myself not wanting to go back for a second or third listen. Some of the songs off of “Humanz” were just flat out annoying and difficult to listen to, while others just sounded boring, like Gorillaz had just been going through the motions of making beats and handing it off to another feature to make it more interesting.

 

There are definitely songs on here that are great, like “Andromeda,” “Momentz” and “Charger,” but none of these songs match the previous level of greatness Gorillaz achieved. “Humanz” isn’t a bad album, but isn’t great either. Any song of off “Humanz” simply can’t win any battles against songs like “Feel Good Inc.,” “Clint Eastwood,” or “On Melancholy Hill.” This six year wait that has kept so many of us hyped up and excited for “Humanz” has felt like it was for nothing.

 

I would’ve gladly waited another two, or even three years, to hear something match that level of authenticity and unique greatness that Demon Days had achieved. No doubt that still couldn’t happen either though, it’s not like any members of Gorillaz are dead but it feels like their latest album very much is already. Humanz just feels unauthentic to what Gorillaz is. After listening to “Humanz” I’m not sure that wishing for another “Demon Days” is worth waiting for any longer.

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College of DuPage's student newspaper | Est. 1967
A 6 year wait turned disappointment, Gorillaz: Humanz