“Humanz” is a wonderful album, no Gorillaz allowed

The+fictional+band+mates+of+Gorillaz+from+left+to+right%3A+Russel+Hobbs%2C+Noodle%2C+2-D%2C+and+Murdoc+Niccals+as+illustrated+by+Jamie+Hewlett.+
The fictional band mates of Gorillaz from left to right: Russel Hobbs, Noodle, 2-D, and Murdoc Niccals as illustrated by Jamie Hewlett.

The fictional band mates of Gorillaz from left to right: Russel Hobbs, Noodle, 2-D, and Murdoc Niccals as illustrated by Jamie Hewlett.

Photo courtesy of Newsweek

Photo courtesy of Newsweek

The fictional band mates of Gorillaz from left to right: Russel Hobbs, Noodle, 2-D, and Murdoc Niccals as illustrated by Jamie Hewlett.

Bryan A. Rodriguez, Reporter

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  After a hiatus, humans do not have to wait any longer. April 28 marked the release of the new album, “Humanz,” by virtual band Gorillaz. The creators behind the band, Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, put in a lot of effort after rekindling their creativity, finding new guest artists and old fan-favorite features, and resolving some budgeting issues. Albarn and Hewlett  have created the next step for the Gorillaz, however, some critics and fans believe this album is a step back, and that it doesn’t feel like a Gorillaz album. In my opinion, it feels like a Gorillaz playlist with scattered content.

  A Pitchfork review by Jayson Greene states that, “Humanz mostly feels like a playlist as a result, with each song acting as a self-contained referendum on how this particular guest fares in Gorillaz World.”  

  “Humanz” envisions a world coming to an end, and that end is to a bold leader. In a USA Today article, Albarn said “I sort of projected to the end of the year, when I knew the record would be finished, and I imagined how we’d all feel if he [Donald Trump] made that progress to the summit. It’s not about him, but Gorillaz has always had a dread (in its music) and that was our chosen dreadful destination.”

  Albarn states that this album isn’t about Trump, so he is stating that this album is about the end of a world by the hands of a radical politician. This causes the album to sound more like a politically charged entertainment piece.

   This album is not bad by any means, as it does have well-composed songs. For example, the track “Ascension” (featuring guest Vincent Staples) is a great piece by Albarn. The track is a rap song about how individuals might as well party as “the sky’s falling” when a corrupt leader takes their rule. Staples provides the main vocals for this track, while Albarn sings as fictional band member 2D near the end. “Let Me Out” is a similar track that features both Mavis Staples and Pusha T. This track sounds great, with excellent synth work and a great chorus by Albarn. In “Let Me Out,” Pusha T sings out lyrics such as “Mama Mavis, oh Mama, they tried my patience, Obama is gone, who is left to save us? So together we mourn, I’m praying for my neighbors, They say the devil’s at work and Trump is calling favors,” and these lyrics are good. I personally like this song, but this gives listeners a glimpse into what the album is like, and there are more political banters than Albarn’s vocal work. There’s also a lack of the story for the Gorillaz or even an element of them.

  The album focuses more on its guests than the Gorillaz themselves, and this leads to a lack in Albarn’s vocals and true involvement in the album. Yes, he wrote most of the album and composed it, but he does not come up on a lot of tracks singing as the iconic 2D. He instead gets a chorus or some verse near the end of most songs. And following this, Hewlett does not really get his visuals to play a part in animating the Gorillaz to life. The only contributions Hewlett had in “Humanz” was that he provided promotional posts, and he got the animated music video for the track “Saturnz Barz” organized and produced. That’s it. The Gorillaz are not in some narrative like their previous albums ”Plastic Beach” or “Demon Days.” Instead, they are a tool for the guest artists to play off of and that’s what happens.   

  “Humanz” is a good album, and it’s worth listening to. However,  I would not praise it as a Gorillaz album, since it’s inconsistent with what the Gorillaz have produced before, and it doesn’t have the full care and spirit that Albarn and Hewlett usual contribute to their albums.

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