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Gorillaz - Demon Days

Gorillaz, Demon Days

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

ALL hail the Gorillaz! Creatively speaking there are probably very few artists working within the current mainstream who can rival them for diversity.

The cartoon quartet, which marks the brainchild of Blur frontman, Damon Albarn and ‘Tank Girl’ creator, Jamie Hewlett, are comprised of the characters, Noodle, Murdoc, 2-D and Russell, who inhabit a virtual world on Gorillaz.com.

From such a strange environment comes music that is by equal turns strange but completely wonderful.

The eponymous debut album set the standard in 2002; Demon Days, their sophomore effort, surpasses it.

Co-produced by Albarn and Danger Mouse (of DM & Jemini, Grey Album fame), the album is an eclectic journey through some dark, intense terrain, punctuated by moments of unadulterated joy, and even some trips into the surreal.

It features collaborations with the likes of De La Soul, Neneh Cherry, Shaun Ryder and Deborah Harry, not to mention more far-reaching influences, such as The London Community Gospel Choir and actor, Dennis Hopper.

And while some of the music takes a little while to fully appreciate, the album barely skips a beat, emerging triumphantly as one of the very best of the year (especially in its ability to push boundaries).

Don’t get taken in by the lead single, Feel Good Inc, which has been overplayed to death and marks the long-player at its most unashamedly upbeat.

It’s still a great track, featuring De La Soul, and making you feel as good as its title suggests you should, but it’s far from the album’s best effort.

These include the lively Clint Eastwood, featuring a delicious electronica-led beat and the Children’s Choir San Fernandez Youth Chorus 2003-04; the ominous Kids With Guns, a damning indictment of contemporary society, featuring the welcome return of Nenh Cherry; and All Alone, which tosses in everything from violins, viola and cello, as well as vocals from Roots Manuva and Martina Topley-Bird.

The Happy Mondays’ Shaun Ryder lays down some distinctive vocals over the happy go lucky melodies of Dare (which contains a distinctly 80s-based sound), while the London Gospel Community Choir help turn the title track, Demon Days, into something quite epic and sweeping.

Even more oddly, and perhaps quite brilliantly, is the presence of Dennis Hopper, providing an entrancing spoken-word story over the top of Fire Coming Out of a Monkey’s Head, which is as weird and wonderful as it sounds.

Needless to say, the Gorillaz don’t do things by half measures – Demon Days is ambitious in scope, always surprising, and undoubtedly one of the albums of the year.

Inhabit their world as soon as humanly possible!

Track listing:
1. Intro
2. Last Living Souls
3. Kids With Guns
4. O Green World
5. Dirty Harry
6. Feel Good Inc
7. Mañana
8. Every Planet We Reach Is Dead
9. November Has Come
10. All Alone
11. White Light
12. Dare
13. Fire Coming Out of a Monkey’s Head
14. Don’t Get Lost in Heaven
15. Demon Days