Humanz by Gorillaz has finally arrived, as fans have been clamoring for more tunes since the group’s most recent release in 2010. Outside of the familiar voice of Damon Albarn on several tracks, the album tackles sounds not fully synonymous with past hits. The 20-song LP touches on genres such as hip-hip, house, new wave, modern pop, electronica, downtempo and much more.
Although existing as a project headed and created by Damon Albarn and illustrator Jamie Hewlett, Gorillaz would rather be known as individuals. 2D, Noodle, Murdoc Niccals, and Russel Hobbs respectively are the singer, guitarist, bassist, and drummer in the virtual band. There are additionally many sounds included that simply cannot be produced with those instruments, making a more eclectic collection than even Gorillaz are known for.
All but one of the tracks feature at least one guest, making for a quite subjective album. Given the span of sounds and genres touched upon, Humanz is likely to receive a huge variation with its reception. Given the nature of many of the songs, do not anticipate radio airtime akin to past Gorillaz albums, although a few tracks will certainly ride the airwaves this summer.
“Andromeda” feat. D.R.A.M. has a similar but more uptempo feel of “Dare” from Demon Days and has a high chance of popularity. Another song with that chance is “Let Me Out” feat. Mavis Staples & Pusha T…a rap/industrial dance hybrid anthem about being stuck on the bottom rung of society.
“Ascension” feat. Vince Staples is likely to follow suit as well, a track that may have some double-taking at the artist of this high paced jungle/rap combo. “Strobelite” feat. Peven Everett is straight from the 90’s underground house-music scene. For those that remember the time, it can be incredibly nostalgic. “Charger” feat Grace Jones has an unmistakeable resemblance to Nine Inch Nails and Trent Reznor and is an instant head-bobber.
Humanz’ song content focuses highly on the complex relationships between humans, showing us relationships need not always be with complexity. “Sex Murder Party” feat. Jamie Principle & Zebra Katz satirizes songs that use the same subject as a source of power and pride. The final track on the non-bonus edition, “We Got The Power” feat. Jehnny Beth is a lovely, succinct tune that emboldens the human spirit as the album draws to a close.
A number of songs and music videos were released ahead of Friday, April 28th, including “Hallelujah Money” feat Benjamin Clementine, “Ascension”, and “Saturnz Barz” feat. Popcaan. Given the massive scope of this LP, it seems like a smart decision in hindsight. 20 new songs (26 if deluxe) are a lot to take in and digest, despite the album coming up just short of the 50-minute mark.
Gorillaz and Damon Albarn have never been the types to conform to what is popular, rather forging their own path to stardom. While a couple songs use techniques popular with radio hits such as auto-tuning and dub-style bass, the vast majority do not. Even the songs that do, enough is added for them not to feel like repackaging of chart toppers. After listening to the entirety of the album 10+ times, the impression of the compilation feels more like a masterful work of art.