'Humanz' Strays Away From Gorillaz's Typical Sound

'Humanz' Strays Away From Gorillaz's Typical Sound

A review of the latest Gorillaz release

It’s been seven years since the last Gorillaz album and since I got to see them live at the Patriot Center in DC. Over the course of those seven years Damon Albarn, the mastermind behind the musical side of the Gorillaz, released his first ever solo album, briefly reunited with blur for a new album and tour, started the African funk supergroup Rocket Juice & the Moon with Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and created at least two operatic stage shows with Dr. Dee and wonder.land. The musical madman of has kept busy, organizing one oddball idea after another, exploring a variety of genres and styles, injecting each with his personal brand of English melancholia.

Now with the release of "Humanz," the fourth phase of Gorillaz and the fifth mainline studio album for the group, Damon Albarn has created something dark, upbeat and bathed in synths. "Humanz" is a party album for the end of the world, a final blowout celebration of life and fun and debauchery as an Armageddon of chaos rages outside. It is formed of the same electronic DNA as "Plastic Beach" and "The Fall," yet there is a thickness to its production and thematic darkness reminiscent of "Demon Days'" apocalyptic wonderland. The beats are often bangers, the synths gorgeous and warbled and the vocals range are devious, playful, smirking, and at times, poetic.

The album fits its strange narrative ideas, a discombobulated soundtrack for an “end of the world party” that rushes through phases of melancholy and regret to sinful insanity. It can be seen as narratively disjointed, but to me that works to its advantage, as Damon’s vocals only rarely waft into the thick haze of keyboards and drum machines. Albarn becomes more of a curator for the huge guest list to this grand, debauched finale of humanity and "Humanz" becomes a pseudo-playlist. The narrative is far from linear, even the interludes only act more as a thematic set dressing than some sort of exposition.

What "Humanz" lacks is the classic Gorillaz marriage of organic instrumentals with electronica, opting to focus in on the digital and synthetic. While this works extremely well, many will likely be disappointed by the absence of classic instrumentation being creatively paired with crappy drum machines, ‘80s synths and modern loops. Without the more distinct sounds, it can take a few listens to really pick apart the songs and differentiate them properly. This can be seen as both a success and a shortcoming of the album depending on how you choose to look at it.

On the one hand, it can feel like a slog to those who don’t take the time to dissect the album and its tracks. On the other hand, however, it can become a meandering exploration of this bizarre apocalypse. Fueled by politics, social unrest, and the desperation to remain human through the worst of it all, "Humanz" becomes a wonderland of synthetic madness. It bucks a strict narrative of sound and song in favor of a great, pulsating monstrosity of feelings and thoughts shared over drinks and drugs in a packed club as the world collapses outside.

Cover Image Credit: rapWAVE

Popular Right Now

A Collection Of Poems

A collection of poems that I have written.

I have always liked writing poetry, so I have decided to share a couple of my favorite poems that I have written. They are pretty short, but I hope you all enjoy!

A simple touch

A kind word

Is all someone might need

To feel alive, to feel anything at all


The feeling that lingers

Always in the back of your mind

Rides through the day with you unaware

Until night when it flies into your dreams


Sometimes the unknown is the scariest of all

You know the past and you know the present

But the future, the unknown, continues to loom in your path

Until one day you walk right into it

And realize you still don’t know what you want


Truth flies in the wind,

Eager to set the story straight

While lies come swooping in like vultures,

Determined to seize those want to be free.


The petals on a flower,

Delicate like the mind.

People insist on picking those flowers and picking on your mind.

Why can’t people believe that the mind is beautiful like flowers?

Why do we have so much hate?


Cover Image Credit: Leah Perrino

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

My Winter Break Awarded Me The Opportunity Of A Lifetime

How one video led me to creating content for two great organizations.

Sometimes things work out for you even when you didn’t plan for them to happen. Over the Christmas break, I got a chance to do some amazing things and promote my work in a big way, all out of coincidence.

Christmas was fast approaching and my mom and I were getting ready to head to the airport to pick up my sister who was coming home from Washington D.C. I was trying to decide if I should bring my camera or not; usually I wouldn’t but my sister always begs me to make videos of her and take her picture so I thought this time I guess I’ll indulge. I figured a nice arriving home clip would be nice to have and something cool to capture on my camera.

Her plane had been delayed and sort of shuffled everywhere because of the bad storm all over the country, so we weren’t really sure when or where she was coming from. As we waited patiently for her to arrive, my mom and I noticed more and more people gathering into the airport and setting up camp on the other side of the terminal.

The El Paso Sun Court arrived, then Mariachis, even the El Paso mascot. Finally, our questions were answered when someone my mom knew from the group came up to say hi to her. He said that this was part of a basketball tournament happening as part of the Sun Bowl. The Sun Bowl is the bowl game we have in El Paso at the football stadium where the UTEP Miners play, and they have many other events that lead up to it, including a basketball tournament.

We learned that one of the teams was coming into town that day and all the theatrics was a part of their arrival. Luckily I had had my camera and a very versatile 50mm lens.

So, I decided to stay a little while after my sister finally arrived to film the event. (I had learned last summer that you can pretty much get anywhere in El Paso with a camera and if you look like you know what you’re doing).

The team arrived and danced to music and had a great time. I later took that footage and made a short little video, which is what I usually do when I film something random that I see, and I posted it on my social media. The post got a good audience and eventually attracted the attention of the head media representative from the Sun Bowl Association. He contacted me and said he loved the video and wanted to know if I wanted to do any more videos for him, gratis of course. It didn’t take me too long to think about it and told him, of course, I would.

I became the sole provider of video content for the Sun Bowl Association. This small airport video led me to create eight videos for the Sun Bowl Association, including hanging out with the NC State and ASU football players at Fort Bliss Military Base.

I also got to create videos for all of their events leading up to the Sun Bowl:

Finally, I had the amazing opportunity to create two sports recap videos for both the basketball tournament and Hyundai Sun Bowl:

It was an amazing experience to represent a company visually and have my content spread across not only El Paso, but also Arizona and North Carolina. It was also incredibly gratifying to be a very young 21-year-old content creator among so many older and recognized photographers from the El Paso Times, Herald Post, etc.

This opportunity eventually led to another freelance video project with the UTEP Tennis team. To get not only one but two organizations wanting me to create content for them was such a great honor.

And to think all of this came from one decision to bring my camera to the airport to pick up my sister. I could not have brought my camera that day or had the wrong lens. My sister’s flight could have arrived on time and we would’ve missed the arrival. I could not have had the confidence to step into the crowd and press the record button. But luckily life had its way of putting me in the right place at the right time.

I had the confidence to step in the crown and press the record button. But luckily life had its way of putting me in the right place at the right time.

Cover Image Credit: Ryan Ortegon

Related Content

Facebook Comments