Review: The Now Now by Gorillaz

The Now Now by GorillazThe pattern is a little clearer now. Their last record, Humanz, was literally a party, with collaborators left and right, and a really big sense of, well, big – the result being something that’s a little messy. The follow-up, The Now Now, see the Gorillaz dial things back again, with only three collaborators (all dispatched at the beginning of the record) and a focus back on Damon Albarn’s plaintive musings. It’s a pattern we saw with their 2010 duo of Plastic Beach, the bid for pop stardom, and The Fall, the more contemplative counterpart. I had a difficult time getting behind that record, to be honest: everything just felt more abstract, and the gimmick of the record being produced entirely on an iPad made it feel a bit gimmicky. The Now Now suffers from that a bit, but it at least feels a little more deliberate, meaning you can (if you try hard enough) focus on Damon and his thoughts. But, still, it can be difficult to get into. If you’re used to the experimentation, you’ll be a bit adrift with this – and, yes, Humanz overdid it, but somehow that was easier to forgive. But perhaps that is the big statement we’re going for here, all those things about the trappings of fame, or perhaps another comment about the world today. Hard to tell, frankly. [NB]3/5

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earthings! 2017: My ten favorites of the year

Here’s more proof that I am starting to fall by the wayside, at least when it comes to listening to the songs I’m apparently supposed to listen to and like, here’s a relatively pop-centric list of my ten favorite songs for 2017. I attribute it to the fact that I may have listened more to my K-pop library this year (it does have some therapeutic claims) and that things seem to blend with each other more this year than in previous years. In a way, it’s a good thing: finally, some parity between the slickly produced and the more down-to-earth ones. But some will say this is me selling out. Nah, nobody is saying that. Nobody cares about this thing, yes? But we have to put it out, like everybody else, so here, in alphabetical order, are my ten favorite songs of the year. [NB]

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Review: Humanz by Gorillaz

Humanz by GorillazDamon Albarn called the new Gorillaz album, Humanz, as something borne out of “an emotional response to politics”. You can take whatever you can take from that. If you’re the sort of person whose idea of “emotional” is rallying, off-the-cuff and a bit uncontrolled, then this album might be a let down. The idea of it soundtracking the party before the end of the world lends it a nonchalant approach that just plods along, devoid of a central moment that defines the record. Or, it could be fading away as you rant over the state of whatever it is you’re in today. Or maybe that emotional approach is one of withdrawal, of reclusion, of giving up, in which case the nonchalance of Humanz is the whole point. It’s a bit difficult to figure out where the record stands (especially with reports of every Donald Trump reference being scrubbed off before release) and in this case, it renders the album a bit directionless. With Albarn’s voice fading into the background more, it feels a bit lost, too. That said, the scale of collaborators – De La Soul, Grace Jones, Mavis Staples, even Noel Gallagher, of all people – is something worth noting; perhaps this is more a collaborator record than one reliant on Jamie Hewlett’s visuals. (Sadly?) What a party, indeed. | 3/5