Gorillaz are set to drop their new record, ‘Humanz’, in it’s entirety this Friday after already pre-releasing five tracks.
The 14-track-long album is saturated with features from Benjamin Clementine and Penthouse to Talk Radio, Anthony Hamilton, Jamie Principle, Zebra Katz and Kali Uchis. You’ll also hear appearances from D.R.AM, Peven Everett, Popcaan and De La Soul.
Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn from the duo are known for their ability to mash multiple genres together and blend them into a genre-less sonic fusion that only exists in dreams and they have achieved this once again in ‘Humanz’.
The record does admittedly start off a bit weaker, although harder in style and beat, with less cohesion and dynamics with tracks like ‘Ascension’, featuring Vince Staples, which is arguably just a beat with a rap laid over the top – and not the exciting and experimental rap we’ve come to expect from artists who are privileged enough to be featured on a Gorillaz album.
It does pick up, however, around about the time when Danny Brown and Kelela make an appearance on ‘Submission’. This is one of those tracks that almost sounds like it might fall apart at any minute because there are a few opposing layers going on, but it all pulls together beautifully. It’s that kind of sound and experience I love to hear from Gorillaz. It does give me mild levels of anxiety at times but that’s what makes it so exciting.
During this track I was hit with the realisation that this was the first female contribution I was hearing on the album so far and we were already seven tracks deep. This was a disappointment considering the underrepresentation of females in the music industry but with that being said, Kelela more than earned her spot on this album purely on merit and talent alone.
Directly after ‘Submission’ comes ‘Charger’ featuring Grace Jones which is another stronger track on the record and starts off with a raw guitar-sounding riff (probably made on a synthesizer or computer) that is just intoxicating and extremely catchy.
‘Humanz’ is spattered with interludes throughout, six in total, featuring voice overs from Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn, best known for his roles in ‘The Year My Voice Broke’, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ and ‘Bloodline’. His voice adds a certain roughness and almost creepy atmosphere for whatever world Gorillaz are hinting at.
They managed to step it up another notch around about the time when they teamed up with Mavis Staples and Pusha T on the record for ‘Let Me Out’. I have to add though, there were some serious Kanye-esque vibes on this tune.
After this though, the album dips a little bit with tracks like ‘Sex Murder Party’ and ‘Hallelujah Money’ but thankfully picks up again for a strong ending with ‘We Got The Power’ featuring Jehnny Beth from Savages.
Just listening to this record and adding in the visuals already released for ‘Saturnz Barz’, ‘Ascension’, ‘Andromeda, ‘Hallelujah Money’ and ‘We Got The Power’, you can almost already visualize a story in your head to pull it altogether. So it’ll be interesting to see what other magical imagery we’ll get to see next.
Many will debate that ‘Humanz’ is not a satisfactory follow up to the beloved ‘Plastic Beach’, but really, how could you top that. It still has a hip hop focus but perhaps lacks some of the world sounds ‘Plastic Beach’ has. However, ‘Humanz’ feels fresh. Despite Gorillaz predating many current artists creating music of this calibre, their sound is still new and prevailing.
‘Humanz’ is officially released today, 28 April.