All aboard the funk and soul train; the understated genius of Damon Albarn and Gorillaz is loose once again.
Some may never have imagined we’ see a sixth offering from animated international-funk-pop-soul-rock superstars, but here we are. Timely in its creation, aptly titled The Now Now is a more toned-down version of recent releases, we might even say their best yet.
Each track is finessed to the usual Albarn standards, but with far fewer guest vocalists paying a visit to infiltrate the elusive Gorillaz style and sound, bar a welcome contribution from an ever smooth and smoke-addled Snoop Dogg. Hollywood is indeed a highlight of the track list, a modern funky narrative of the LA district’s bitchy vibes of seduction, love and wonder.
Gorillaz’ usual air of melancholy weaves its way throughout most of the lyrics, hand in hand with some strikingly delicious melodies. Kansas really could be an alternative Wizard of Oz soundtrack, evoking dreams of red glitter wellies and the confusing hippie bit of Glastonbury. Fire Flies is another notable favourite – a simply beautiful insight into the fragility of love – and Magic City conjures up Bowie-esque images of time and space travel, a common impersonation that seems to be appearing on numerous new releases lately, but an inoffensive homage nonetheless.
Naturally there are a few what one may call lazy tracks.Lake Zurich feels like a bit of a filler, the musical equivalent of an airport selfie, whereas One Percent is the private jet that never really took off anywhere. But the accomplished electronic production and Damon Albarn’s soulful and honest vocals are what makes this much simpler offering from Gorillaz a firm favourite of ours and a real sound of the times. This cartoonish quartet have always been a vision of the future, and on this basis it looks rather bright indeed.