The innovative brain child of Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett, Gorillaz have been going since 1998. The Now Now is the virtual band’s sixth record, which sees them ditch their go to plethora of guest artists in favour of a concentrated zap of pure Gorillaz flavour.
Opener Humility sets out the feeling of loneliness from the beginning, but this new no frills approach gets Gorillaz back to their most melodic and least ridiculous incarnation since their inception. There can be no denying the genius of a pairing like Albarn and Hewlett, both lyrically and artistically they are a match made in heaven. The pulsing heart of Tranz channels the classic Gorillaz sound in a refined way, with Albarn’s distorted voice playing perfectly into their dystopian imagery that runs alongside many of their album concepts.
Snoop Dogg is one of only a handful guest stars enlisted for this record, and on Hollywood fits well into the sometimes mind melting world of Gorillaz. It has a swagger and flex that only someone like Snoop Dogg is able to pull off without looking ridiculous. There is an overspill of funk here that runs all the way into Kansas, a more downtrodden affair that again puts Albarn’s solitude at the forefront.
Albert’s now instantly recognisably emotionally flat vocal really comes into it’s own on One Percent, a melancholy state of affairs aimed at those in power. The lack of emotion he carries in his voice can easily be mistakenly read as apathy, but this is a man who has quite clearly had enough like the rest of us.
Whilst this record works well on exploring what Gorillaz are at their very core, it lacks the sharp wit and experimental vibe that has been present through their past releases. It reads more as a Damon Albarn solo project than a cartoon band’s world laid bare, and because of that there is a skewed realisation that Gorillaz are no longer the fully separate entity that made them so exciting all those years ago.