Gorillaz - 'The Now Now' Album Review
Gorillaz's Demon Days was the first album I ever owned. Their 'Demon Days Tour' was the first gig I ever went to, and little 7 year old Danny had to be escorted out by his dad because it was too loud. As result, Gorillaz have always been a big part of my life, making it hard not to be disappointed at the release of Humanz last year. An album that I didn't outright hate, but one that suffered from a clear lack of direction and coherence from Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett. With the announcement of The Now Now I was worried that the boys were rushing out another album to make up for that misfire and while The Now Now is far from revolutionary, it makes for a relaxing, bouncy and most importantly, consistent listen.
The album opens with the glistening and sunny hit 'Humility', a song that features mostly Albarn on vocals atop a funky baseline and bubbly synths. This is a perfect intro to the sound that Gorillaz achieve throughout The Now Now, bouncy, summery, pop music that is very inviting and easy for everyone to bob their head to. This leads to a lack of experimentation with almost all songs riding off a similar drum pattern behind psychedelic synths, which is a little disappointing from the perspective of a Demon Days and Plastic Beach fan boy. However, whilst there isn't much divergence from this sound, it's a sound that they perfect as the lively and LCD Soundsystem-inspired 'Lake Zurich' proves with its hypnotic groove that you will no doubt have trouble getting out of your head.
For a Gorillaz project, The Now Now is surprisingly low on features, boasting only 3 features throughout the tight 11 song tracklist. This leads to more Damon Albarn which is hard to complain about as his vocals shine perfectly over these energetic beats. The few times features are used they are used perfectly and don't overpower Albarn, like on much of Humanz. This can be seen in 'Hollywood' the only song with 2 featured artists; Jamie Principle's enchanting words and Snoop Dogg's smooth and charismatic verse, both of which work well with Albarn on the chorus.
With Albarn's isolation comes more introspective and personal lyrics, straying away from the overt political or environmental commentary that we are used to making for a nice change of pace. With their 6th studio album, Gorillaz seem to be stripping back the grand narratives and characterisation of their previous albums and focus on a singular sound. Fans of this summery sound will get a fun and electric experience while others will be bored by the time they reach the third track, and, luckily, I'm a fan. Whilst it's not as experimental or grand as their previous releases, Gorillaz have made an album not to be analysed or dissected but just to bob your head to and enjoy the synths.
Listen to the full album below: