(Parlophone Records Limited)
Gorillaz albums are like seasons of Louie: they’re completely unique but always high quality, you never know what’s going to happen or who’s going to pop up, and you can trust that they’re anchored by a creative genius. They’re also similar in that you never know when the next one is coming, but you can’t wait for it. After a much publicized falling out between Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett it looked like 2010’s The Fall might be the last word for everyone’s favorite animated band. We’re all fortunate that those two mended fences and now Humanz is here.
More than any other Gorillaz album, Humanz is extremely consistent yet not entirely cohesive. It features track after track of awesome party jams, rarely slowing down, and when it does it’s still awesome. The sheer amount of guests really diversifies things though. You have to wait a solid eight songs, not counting interludes, until you get to a song that doesn’t introduce a new vocalist. The effect that this gives is that of listening to a great DJ set that shouldn’t work but does. You go from De La Soul to Danny Brown to Grace Jones and never stop dancing. “Busted & Blue” is the chill out moment in the middle of the album, your chance to go to the bathroom or grab another drink before things pick up again.
The last two songs are two of the most different songs on the album and also two of the best. “Hallelujah Money” is a strangely beautiful synth-gospel track with the distinctive vocals of Benjamin Clementine. It would be a perfect album closer if “We Got the Power” didn’t exist. Albarn shares vocals with frenemy Noel Gallagher and Savage’s Jehnny Beth in a life-affirming anthem that somehow manages not to be cheesy. It’s just another example of disparate elements coming together to make something great.
This is and always has been one of the best things about Gorillaz. They can stick Pusha T and Mavis Staples on a track together and make it work. Maybe Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett didn’t put aside their differences after all. Maybe they embraced them.