Gorillaz - Demon Days

2009-09-08 10:08

Marketed as "The first virtual hip hop band," and with band members represented in videos as cartoon characters by Tank Girl creator Jamie Hewlett, Gorillaz are the perfect pop stars. (Insane AND indestructible!) Trendoids would covet their albums even if you weren't instantly hooked by their monkey's wedding 2001 single "Clint Eastwood", that sticky, looping blend of acoustic rock, hip hop and Brit pop brilliance: Remember "I got sunshine, in a bag / I'm useless, but not for long / The future is coming on"?

After a four year break, Gorillaz are back, with a slightly altered toon line-up. Noodle (guitar), 2-D (vocals), Murdoc Nicalls (bass), Russel Hobbs (drums) and the marketing campaign took on a darker, inner city feel.

Would this be some obscure experiment that musical snobs would love and the public would ignore? Thankfully, it's the opposite. The pre-release video for the first single, cheekily titled "Feel Good Inc." offers serious hope (check out the video under this review). This new song (featuring De La Soul) is catchy as hell - hip hop with added adrenaline and thick, buzzy production.

Albarn ropes in a cool hit list of collaborators (both living and dead). Neneh Cherry ("Kids with guns"), and Sean Ryder ("Dare"), Ike Turner ("Every Planet We Reach is Dead") and Dennis Hopper's spoken word ("Coming out of the Monkey's Head") all grace the credits list along with little freaky comic voices.

Oddly, this musical promiscuity isn't pointless disruptive showing off. Albarn holds the hugely listenable Demon Days together. His distinctive vocals dominate. They sound sometimes buttery and occasionally dry, and sometimes as if they're coming at you from an old radio down a bad telephone line.

The richly instrumented sound provides a unifying wash of nice noise. If your speakers aren't coping, that's because the bass is dangerous on a bad system, but gorgeous on a good one.

The best thing about this CD, though, is probably the faintly crazed overtone of Armageddon flavoured comedy. "There's Crack on the Corner" goes the cheerful chant. Wow! In the rock / pop / hip hop swill of self important, miserable millionaires, smack addicted rockers shagging supermodels, and other characters we're meant to feel sorry for even while wishing we were them, it's exciting - no it's exhilarating - to find a band that has a sense of humour about themselves. It's fresh, it's fun, it's international. Experimental? With blue smoke. Pop? Oh yes. Buy it? Definitely do.


What exactly it evokes is open for debate (even if the general undercurrent of impending dread is not), though trying to resolve that debate is proving to be one of the most unique pleasures the year has offered thus far. Demon Days is fantastic.
- Mike Schiller for Pop Matters

Though the results of his exuberant mixing and matching are uneven at times, Albarn's obsessions fit together just often enough to again make Gorillaz more than mere Adult Swim novelty.
- Rob Mitchum for Pitchforkmedia

The first Gorillaz project, Gorillaz (2001), was dismissed by some as a novelty project on the part of Blur's Damon Albarn. Don't worry, Graham Coxon, they said. Your band mate's not going anywhere, they said. Shortly afterwards, guitarist Coxon left Blur anyhow, and though Damon and the other boys churned out the excellent Think Tank, the Gorillaz "side project" survived.

Du Wayne 2005/06/09 8:09 AM
Great Tunes Love the music, they are really a original band Yes
laevinia 2005/06/09 1:06 PM
gorillaz wowwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!!
steve 2005/06/09 4:54 PM
great vids so much nicer to watch than just read, gorillaz rocks.
Jade 2005/06/21 3:19 PM
Gorillaz Very original and as usual well done...something other than annoying love songs and pain...finally a band that isn't depressed with life!
Allan 2005/07/07 11:18 PM
Not quite as good as they say... This Gorillaz cd does not compare with its preceeding release. The songs are uneven at times, and often technical wizardry takes precedence over the value of the song beneath all the noise. While the first Gorillaz album was packed with excellent melodies, this album falls short in that area. There is the brilliant Feel Good Inc. and the classic Last living souls. But for the most part the songs will pass you by in a blizzard of noise but fail to catch you wholehearted. Its average and nothing more. The original is still better. However, Albarn's ability to write some great songs (is he the only real songwriter left?) is evident here, and it is worth buying just for those few songs, which will not be found anywhere else! The monkeys have more brains than most bands. Gorillaz
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