The Gorillaz: The Now Now

The Gorillaz: The Now Now

Damon Albarn takes a Midwestern trip of synthpop-funk in their 6th album

The Gorillaz: The Now Now

Damon Albarn takes a Midwestern trip of synthpop-funk in their 6th album
Gorillaz
The Now Now
7.2
sweet, solo introspection

It wasn’t too long ago that Gorillaz fans worldwide were waiting for the eccentric, virtual band started by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett to come back from their five-year hiatus and finally begin to tour. After the Gorillaz’ fifth album Humanz broke the streak with cathartic release, Albarn isn’t ready to drift away from music again. Just over a year after Humanz, the Gorillaz have taken another dive into their newest album: The Now Now.

But don’t expect Vince Staples to pop out into an energetic fanfare or wildly dance to De La Soul in this album. In fact, The Now Now has only three featured artists, an unusual style for the Gorillaz when compared with Humanz’s rather overwhelming 26+ artists and their 2010 Plastic Beach’s 14 features. In The Now Now, Damon Albarn has instead decided to recline back, relax and enjoy the ride of sweet, solo introspection. It opens with “Humility” with George Benson, and gets all of the album’s features out of the way in the first 3 songs as though Albarn is relishing in the rush of upbeat socialization before quickly realizing the long journey he has ahead that he’s going to require solitude. When eyeing up songs like “Hollywood” with Snoop Dogg and house music artist Jamie Principle snickering, “Where the beautiful people at? Beautiful people clap your hands,” and the opening drum roll of “Lake Zurich,” it feels like Albarn is about to jump into an effulgent, swaggering beat, but never seems to fully make its mark. It would probably be better off being played at a hookah lounge instead of a packed nightclub. Albarn seems to go back into his own train of thought in songs like mellow synth-pop “Kansas,” letting the Midwest’s rolling green hills of emptiness clear his mind and let the sun in, while “Idaho” is reaching the end of his detached road trip, watching the sun setting over a clear night sky. There is darkness surrounding him now, but not in a way that draws fear; darkness is simply the transition into the mysterious, peculiar realm that draws the world’s attention in an almost hypnotizing way. At times, songs like “One Percent” feels like Albarn is literally running out of energy before the lethargy takes over, a nighttime ballad for the exhausted insomniac trapped between laying in darkness and flying through an ethereal outer space, complete with small blips and beeps along the way.

But the day starts over and the sun rises again with the last song on the album “Souk Eye,” a warm acoustic final rhythm to end the Gorillaz’ sixth release. The Now Now isn’t here to shove a fist of political ideas and a call to action down your throat. It’s here to remind that sometimes it’s okay for the world to kick its shoes off, look out the window, and appreciate the beauty of emptiness and minimalism, even when it becomes mundane. In place of where it can lack the density, the Gorillaz utilizes The Now Now as a reminder to stay curious, and even a bit childish, no matter what age.