"Demon Days"

1st August 2005
reviewer: Bob
rating: 5 out of 5
published by: Parlophone
released: 23rd June 2005
  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

The Gorillaz are the side project of Damon Albarn (from Blur). The band is Damon on songwriting duty along with some guy who draws the cartoon band who front the music (his name's Jamie Hewlett – Ed). Your reviewer doesn’t really buy the concept of a cartoon band and thus doesn’t find the artwork terribly important to the enjoyment of the album. What is important is that for Demon Days Dangermouse is on production duty. He is most famous for mashing up the Beatles' White Album and Jay Z's Black Album to form The Grey Album which was a very popular download on certain internet sites.

Damon's obviously been very busy on the phone to his rock star mates. He’s got some interesting and varied names in to lend their vocals to the album including Roots Manuva, Neneh Cherry and, on first single ‘Feel Good Inc.’, De La Soul. The best contribution probably comes from Shaun Ryder who performs an almost Lazarus-like return to the charts with his best work in years on ‘DARE’. The notorious junky is back to his mumbling best and it's extremely funny hearing him sing “coming up, coming up”. Also worthy of note is Dennis Hopper who reads a parable-esque story over a funky backdrop on ‘Fire Coming Out Of A Monkey’s Head’. His voice lends just the right amount of gravity to the track.

Musically Damon is on top form. The album is quite dense on first listen but as you listen to it more and more (and trust me you’ll want to) the tunes emerge. It’s the sound of an artist really enjoying his work. Dangermouse not only lends some superb production detail but also reins in any temptation towards self-indulgence, keeping it all supremely tight.

If this review were interactive you could ask me about any track and I’d be able to tell you something about it to treasure; from the way the hip hop-style verses of ‘Last Living Souls’ blend into a beautiful acoustic chorus, to the inspired use of the San Fernandez Youth Choir on ‘Dirty Harry’ which evokes Pink Floyd's similar treatment on ‘Another Brick in the Wall’. As it isn’t you’ll just have to trust me.

Whether the Gorillaz is an excellent marketing opportunity, an inspired artistic concept or perhaps Albarn being pretentious, there’s no question the next Blur album will have a lot to live up to.

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