On Feb. 24 the unconventional, sound-defying animated band Gorillaz will be releasing their ninth studio album “Cracker Island.” From the sound of the singles that have been periodically released, it seems that Damon Albarn, the creator of the band, has decided to take Gorillaz on a different path that is drastically different from their sound that fans have known. However, that’s the beauty of the band. Their sound changes from album to album and this time it’s an upbeat, popular-sounding tracklist that is not far away from their past experiments, but is something new that might stick around with the band. With “Cracker Island” approaching, now would be a good time to visit the popular past album releases.
Gorillaz (Self-Titled) – 2001
This was Albarn’s first album through Gorillaz. At the time he was still with the popular BritPop band Blur, but due to some clashes within the band, they were on hiatus. Albarn teamed up with comic artist Jamie Hewlit and created the world’s first digital band. Many people recognize the band from their signature music videos.
“Gorillaz” is a nostalgic album as it is the start of the Gorillaz universe and everything they are known for. “M1 A1” is still used as the opener for their concerts. The album incorporates guest artist Del the Funky Homosapien to give a few of their tracks a sound of the city feel. The album goes from upbeat with “19-2000” and “Rock the House” to a nice, relaxing feel with “Tomorrow Comes Today,” and a spoof on the western theme with “Clint Eastwood.” It’s a nice start falling back on what was popular at the time, but as the years progress, we see Gorillaz evolve with their sound and get more confident with alternative sounds.
Demon Days – 2005
An album that is their “Night at the Opera” or “Sergeant Pepper Lonely Hearts Club,” “Demon Days” is their magnum opus that many fans will say is their favorite. “Demon Days” holds a special place in my heart as well. A near-perfect album, the band captures themes of the environment and social unrest around the world. The first half of the album up until “Every Planet We Reach Is Dead” is addicting. “Dirty Harry” and “Kids With Guns” have a driving sound that one can become hypnotized to. The first half is all the lead up to the song that put them on the map, “Feel Good Inc.” The song was crafted to be popular and have that iconic bassline remain in your head after the song is over.. To bring the album all together, “Dare” is a feel-good classic. And the underrated storytelling song “Fire Coming Out of The Monkey’s Head” bleeding into “Don’t Get Lost in Heaven” and “Demon Days” wrap the album up nicely and one can’t help but listen to it again.
Plastic Beach – 2010
Where “Demon Days” still had a resemblance to “Gorillaz,” it is with “Plastic Beach” that Albarn really started to experiment. With the groovy beats that follow you through the album and the Lo-Fi relaxing songs that get trampled by the next track, which is upbeat to make sure you’re still listening, “Plastic Beach” is what die hard fans listen to the band for. “Demon Days” made the band popular but “Plastic Beach” kept the real fans around.
The album incorporates new technological sounds alongside some well-known names in music as guest artists, such as Snoop Dogg and Lou Reed. Half of the band “The Clash” also collaborates on the album, making the album more of an art piece than something that you would find popular. “Melancholy Hill” is an incredible ballad for which words do no justice.“Plastic Beach” is a perfect album to have in the background or have headphones in to really capture the essence of the “Plastic Beach.”
Humanz – 2017
The seven-year gap in between albums proved to be worth the while. “Humanz” is very audacious and it pays off. The album relies a lot on synthesizers to create a house music sound with songs like “Strobe Light” and “We Got the Power,” likewise, incorporating aspects of Ska to the song “Saturn Benz.” There isn’t much to be said about the album other than it is a nice change but still very resemblant to the original Gorillaz that people love. “Humanz” is an album that is perfect to listen to in order to relax and fall into a music pit.
Song Machine, Season One: Strange Times – 2020
This album had a guest artist on every track ranging from Elton John to St. Vincent. There was no structure to this album other than introducing us to music from all over the world. Opening with the track “Strange Times” featuring Robert Smith from the Cure, the album was a wonderful surprise gifted during the time of the COVID-19 Pandemic. They released a song once a month up until the release date with accompanying music videos. “Momentary Bliss” with Slowthai and “The Valley of the Pagans” with Beck are two upbeat songs that combat “the Pink Phantom” and “The Lost Chord,” giving us an album of all aspects that is perfect for anyone. Gorillaz still remains who they are even 20 years after their initial release.
“Cracker Island” has already gotten some mixed reviews, but we have to wait for it to be released to see if it belongs with the great Gorillaz albums that came before it.