Monday, July 04, 2005

Gorillaz - Demon Days

When the first Gorillaz album came out I didn't realise how much of a Damon Albarn project it was, especially as the biggest single from the album was an Ed Case remix. Listening to Demon Days, the new album, it's pretty clear who's the driving force behind it. The third track, Kids With Guns, sounds just like a slightly dubby Blur, and not just because of his voice.

But it does get a bit more interesting. There are odd, dischordant samples, glitchy beats and squeaky bleeps, and Dirty Harry has some nice film-score-y strings. Feel Good is pleasantly summery and upbeat, and benefits from more rapping and less of Damon's vocals.

I've never been sure about the cartoon band schtick, but it's not referenced on the record, so you can just appreciate the pretty pictures on the cover, without feeling like you've got a children's TV show shouting in your ear when you listen to the music.

For me, the most interesting tracks are the ones where Damon takes a back seat, like All Alone, a stomping track with Roots Manuva on mic duty, and White Light, which sounds uncannily like XTRMNTR era Primal Scream, all distorted vocals, insistent basslines and fuzzy guitars (note: these are all good things).

Sean Ryder also features, less successfully, mumbling his way through Dare. He sounds half-asleep, half-hearted and disinterested here. Hopefully not a reflection of his state of mind generally. Not his greatest moment. But the album bounces back after this, with spoken word monkey fantasy, what I think is meant to sound like The Beach Boys singing about dead crackheads, and the title track, which starts off quiet and almost melancholic, and ends up big, triumphant and uplifting as only gospel vocals can be.

This is a good album. I look forward to what a few more listems might reveal, and I hope they get some interesting people in on remix duty. 7/10.


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