Gorillaz finally released Humanz on April 28th and it’s an interesting affair. Including incredible tracks like Momentz and Submission, the album is essentially split up into sections by intermissions narrated by Ben Mendelson, actor for Krennic in Rogue One. It tells a story of the fictional band Gorillaz exploring the world as some cataclysmic event is taking place, with various groups celebrating and partying in the face of their world crumbling around them.
The album opens with Intro: I Switched my Robot Off, Ben talking about how he now ‘knows more but retains less’ before the album explodes (quite literally with a NASA countdown) into the song Ascension.
This, I feel, is the beginning of the cataclysmic event the album revolves around. The rest of the album drops clues to the overall plot, both subtlety or not so. It’s this aspect of the album that earns it the most praise, it never flat out directs you to its narrative instead leaving it largely up to the listeners interpretations.
Its helped by the fact a lot of the songs are particularly strong even without the wider setting of the album and the characters, though seldom referenced in actual tracks, also hold a listeners attention directly, unlike a wealth of other music we find released in the modern music scene. Some tracks don’t quite manage to match the singles heights on Humanz, I caught myself switching off on Strobelight and Canival and picking back up on tracks such as Momentz.
Sex Murder Party, Submission and Momentz are the stand out tracks, boasting a mix of excitement and eccentricity. Momentz is an amazing track, De La Soul knock it out of the park with their collaboration. The beat is enticing, powerful and perfectly timed, fitting neatly into the rest of the track.
Submission is another interesting addition to the album, starting slow and smooth with a very traditional Gorillaz drum beat and occasional chiptune style sounds creates an almost cult like atmosphere. Dany Brown’s voice boasts whats best described as chaotic rapping, sounding almost panicked and lost in the apocalyptic world the album creates.
The album comes in two editions, regular and deluxe. The deluxe comes with an extra four tracks and one extra intermission. These additions aren’t particularly worth the extra cash, Circle of friends is nice ending to the deluxe edition of the album but it isn’t fantastic. The tracks Out of Body and The Apprentice are both absolutely phenomenal though and might be the incentive you need to fork out for the bigger edition.
Humanz never reaches the heights of Gorillaz albums such as Demon Days but I think it stands strongly within their discography. It’s tracks are up and down, however its exploration of so many different sounds is certainly deserving of a nod from a “music as art” standpoint.