Gorillaz: The Now Now review – Damon Albarn and co dial down the maximalism

Damon Albarn

Groupe / Damon Albarn 187 Views comments

(Warner Bros)

Hot on the heels of their 2017 record Humanz – a guest-star-strewn collection of gloomy dance music – comes the sixth album from Damon Albarn’s animated outfit. Unlike its predecessor, The Now Now enlists few collaborators: jazz guitarist George Benson supplies opener Humility with a gorgeously funky riff, and Snoop Dogg and house producer Jamie Principle contribute vocals to the spiky strut of Hollywood, but that’s it. Instead, Albarn supplies the bulk of the vocals, largely minus the effects that have previously characterised his voice as Gorillaz front-cartoon 2-D.

This isn’t an entirely new mode for the group. In 2010 they released two albums: the first, Plastic Beach, sported hordes of big-name musicians; the second, The Fall, just a handful. The latter has much in common with The Now Now. Both were recorded during North American tours for the band’s previous album, and include numerous songs named after US locales. Yet while The Fall exhibited a slightly gentler side to Gorillaz, The Now Now provides more comprehensive respite from the occasionally stressful maximalism that has characterised their work. It has a welcome sense of calm, with Albarn falling back on his knack for writing songs that manage to be both heartrending and casually conversational – the trick that made Blur’s classic ballads so beautiful.

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