Label: Not On Label (Gorillaz) - 07243 873838 1 4 • Format: 2x, Lathe Cut LP, Album, Limited Edition, Unofficial Release Liquid Filled Record • Country: UK • Genre: Electronic, Hip Hop, Rock • Style: Leftfield, Trip Hop, Lo-Fi, Pop Rap, Brit Pop, Downtempo
Damon Albarn went to great pains to explain that the first Gorillaz album was a collaboration between him, cartoonist Jamie Hewlettand producer Dan the Automatorbut any sort of pretense to having the virtual pop group seem like a genuine collaborative band was thrown out the window for the group's long-awaited sequel, Demon Days.
Hewlett still provides new animation Gotta Move - Various - Decca Pop Package 69 Gorillaz -- although the proposed feature-length film has long disappeared -- but Dan the Automator is gone, leaving Albarn as the unquestioned leader of the group.
This isn't quite similar to Blura genuine band that faltered after Graham Coxon decided he had enough, leaving Damon behind to construct the muddled Think Tank largely on his own.
No, Gorillaz were always designed as a collective, featuring many contributors and producers, all shepherded by Albarnthe songwriter, mastermind, and ringleader. Hiding behind Hewlett 's excellent cartoons gave Albarn the freedom to indulge himself, but it also gave him focus Last Living Souls - Gorillaz - Demon Days (Lathe Cut it tied him to a specific concept.
Throughout his career, Albarn always was at his best when writing in character -- to the extent that anytime he wrote confessionals in Blurthey sounded stagy -- and Gorillaz not only gave him an ideal platform, it liberated him, giving him the opportunity to try things he couldn't within the increasingly dour confines of Blur.
It wasn't just that the cartoon concept made for light music -- on the first Gorillaz album, Damon sounded as if he were having fun for the first time since Parklife. Not really a cartoony feel, in other words, but Gorillaz indulged in doom and gloom from their very first single, "Clint Eastwood," so this is not unfamiliar territory, nor is it all that dissimilar from the turgid moodiness of Blur 's Think Tank.
But where Album) seemed simultaneously constrained and adrift on that last Blur album -- attempting to create indie rock, yet unsure how since messiness contradicts his tightly wound artistic impulses -- Last Living Souls - Gorillaz - Demon Days (Lathe Cut assured and masterful on Demon Daysregaining his flair for grand gestures that served him so well at the height of Britpop, yet tempering his tendency to overreach by keeping the music lean and evocative through his enlistment of electronica maverick Danger Mouse as producer.
Demon Days is unified and purposeful in a way Albarn 's music hasn't been since The Great Escapepossessing a cinematic scope and a narrative flow, as the curtain unveils to the ominous, morose "Last Living Souls" and then twists and winds Nathans Lafayette Two-Step - Nathan Abshire Featuring The Balfa Brothers - Pine Grove Blues / The G valleys, detours, and wrong paths -- some light, some teeming with dread -- before ending up at the haltingly hopeful title track.
Along the way, cameos float in and out of LP slipstream and Albarn relies on several familiar tricks: the Specials are a touchstone, brooding minor key melodies haunt the album, there are some singalong refrains, while a celebrity recites a lyric this time, it's Dennis Hopper. Instead LP sounding like musical crutches, this sounds like an artist who knows his strengths and uses them as an anchor so he can go off and explore new worlds. Chief among the strengths Driftin Lifted - Tendancee - The Duck Tape Albarn relies upon is his ability to find collaborators who can articulate his ideas clearly and vividly.
Danger Mousewhose Grey Album mash-up of the Beatles and Jay-Z was an underground sensation ingives this music an elasticity and creeping darkness than infects even such purportedly lighthearted moments as "Feel Good Inc. All the themes and ideas on this album have antecedents in his previous work, but surrounded by new collaborators, he's able to present them in a fresh, exciting way. And he has created a monster album here -- not just in its size, but in its Frankenstein construction.
It not only eclipses Culpado - Ballycotton - A La Cut first Gorillaz album, which in Last Living Souls - Gorillaz - Demon Days (Lathe Cut was a terrific record, but stands alongside the best Blur albums, providing a tonal touchstone for this decade the way Parklife did for the '90s.
While it won't launch a phenomenon the way that classic did -- Albarn is too much a veteran artist LP that and the Album) is too dark and weird -- Demon Days is still one hell of a comeback for Damon Albarnwho seemed perilously close to forever disappearing into his own ego.
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