“I just wanna put my arms round you / And whisper, I’m on one percent but I’m there with you,” Damon Albarn sings on Gorillaz new album, Cracker Island, which has its fair share of mentions of modern technology. “Tired Influencers”, “machine assisted, I disappear.” One song, “Skinny Ape,” is even written about delivery robots that he saw and was fascinated with when he was visiting L.A. It’s nice to hear an artist, tackling the issues of the age that we live in, and make songs of love and fear, hope and harm, based around the modern conundrum that is our life now, virtual as it has become.
Damon Albarn (with producer Greg Kurstin) is enough to make an album of compelling, cutting edge tunes, to rival the best genre bending music out there. But the treat of a Gorillaz record is always the collaborators that they bring in. Like Albarn has said in interviews, Gorillaz can really go in any direction he can dream up. And on this album, that means a reggaeton song with Jamaican artist Bad Bunny, a feature from Kevin Parker from Tame Impala, a stunning duet with Stevie Nicks, and another duet with Beck.
There are lines for lovers in there (“If you’re good for me / Then I’m good for you / And that’s all I need / in my life”). There are lines that capture the animated posse and their “forever cult” ways. There’s even a song that was inspired by a dream that Albarn had of the Princess of Thailand, who he met in the nineties (and crowd surfed at one of his shows), who is all grown up in his dream into a Queen. Albarn has an interesting enough life to make his albums a veritable smorgasbord of unique ideas, fit for the world of his own making.
There’s a lot that goes into a Gorillaz record and a lot that comes out of it. There were five singles released for this album, and we might be seeing an animated Stevie Nicks with big fake eyelashes and a blond hairdo, soon. For the initiated, (or obsessed,) I think that this album of well constructed songs will be a thrill. Albarn’s world just keeps expanding. He’s able to put other great artists in the spotlight, while maintaining his signature sound and exploration. It’s poppy, for sure, which will not do it for every average indie listener. But, if you’re like me, Damon Albarn’s voice is about as calming and exciting (in equal measure) as you can find in modern rock. Another good outing from the king of imagination and his friends.
Order Cracker Island by Gorillaz HERE
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