music in review. music in discussions.

Gorillaz: ‘Demon Days’ review – an apocalyptic album with true intent

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Gorillaz is made up of singer 2D, bassist Murdoc Niccals, drummer Russel Hobbs and guitarist Noodle.

Widely hailed as one of the most innovative collaborators going, Gorillaz are true to form throughout their boastful 7-record roster. After their release of Cracker Island last month, we take a look at their follow-up from the self-titled debut, 2005’s Demon Days – often regarded as one of their best among the band’s biggest fans.

Their ground-breaking virtual technique and colourful backstory has kept avid listeners engrossed since it’s first encapsulation in 2001. Rightly so. Thematic and entrancing, Gorillaz paint vivid imagery of a devoid world lost in translation. Many like-minded explorers into the world of Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett have come out with ‘apocalypse pop’ and seemingly stuck with it as their own genre.

To be quite frank, that’s exactly what it is. A melancholic townscape where the residents never smile, it paints a lurid depiction of the very same world we evidently see ourselves in. A world destined not to ultimately survive.

Gorillaz have a knack of making music that you always get lost in. Whatever the feeling, whatever landscape you find yourself. A derelict city lost of hope. A plastic beach of forgotten dreams. A vulnerable human state. Or even within a land of permanent sun. Their storytelling is next to none.

While the latter projects of 2017’s Humanz and 2020’s Song Machine: Strange Timez promote an overarching theme on the one song material with another collaborative artist, Demon Days is a far more subtle – but equally emphatic – thesis throughout its 15-track listing. The album starts with what any other conceptual album begins with: an Intro. Intro sets the tone of the album as its alluring sax puts us right on the suburban streets themselves before we embark on this cinematic storyline of bittersweet sadness. Some worthy stand-outs are Kids with Guns, Every Planet We Reach Is Dead and of course the prologue of this album, the four-sprong of DARE, Fire Coming Out of the Monkey’s Head, Don’t Get Lost in Heaven and Demon Days that really encompass this desolate neon-city wasteland of something that was once something. While their stand-outs to be had that denote different emotions, the album is one of those that needs to be played throughout.

While Feel Good Inc is this metaphorical corporation feeding us cheap thrills that ultimately “pollutes our world,” – even Dirty Harry paints a morbid tale despite its uplifting synth progression – the mood enters enlightening mode as we round up in the final quarter of the album, as we learn the past where the Happyfolk used to live and we start to wonder whether we simply have the power to get up and change. In a choral enchantment, it swoons to us as we embrace our humility – so turn yourself to the sun. DARE yourself, after all – it never did no harm, did it?

In these demon days, we’re so cold inside
It’s so hard for a good soul to survive
You can’t even trust the air you breathe
‘Cause Mother Earth wants us all to leave
When lies become reality
You numb yourself with drugs and TV
Pick yourself up, it’s a brand new day
So turn yourself ’round
Don’t burn yourself, turn yourself
Turn yourself around into the sun
To the sun, to the sun
To the sun, to the s

Demon Days, Gorillaz

A truly magnificent magician, Damon Albarn constantly fine tunes his craftsmanship with his compelling story-writing centred around this truly compelling cinematic backdrop that works so well with anthemic electronica-pop. It would be at this point where I relate Gorillaz to another band in familiar territory but… I think they’re all on their own. Frankly, it just gives another reason into why they’re so great as a band.

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