A little over a year has passed since the previous Gorillaz album, and yet The Now Now feels completely different. Humanz was panned for its chaotic tracklisting and the fact that it didn’t really sound like a Gorillaz record – much more like a compilation of songs by various artists tied together by Albarn’s production. This new album here fixes that mistake – the list of guest features is surprisingly short, and that allows the listener to focus more on the shiny instrumentals and Damon’s melancholic vocals.
The openig track Humility has a very vintage, feel-good vibe that evokes images of a really lazy, sunny afternoon (the music video fits here brilliantly). It also has a psychedelic funk sound, that pretty much carries through the entire album, like on the infectious Tranz or the fantastic, mostly instrumental Lake Zurich. Hollywood is probably the closest the album gets to Humanz, and it’s executed brilliantly – great chorus and a superb Snoop Dogg make it one of the strongest points on the tracklist. But to be honest – it’s hard to find any weak points, too.
It’s definitely the least eclectic of Gorillaz albums – The Now Now has its spectific, unique sound, and it sticks to it right to the end. And that’s a good thing – at just 40 minutes, the album feels perfectly balanced and is extremely cohesive. Tracks like Sorcererz or Fire Flies are probably among the finest in the group’s back catalogue. But cohesiveness doesn’t mean sameness – the band slows down the pace a bit with Idaho, there’s also a very sweet Magic City (the way Albarn sings the line Look, there’s a billboard on the Moon is just so… pure, incredible stuff). Oh, and the way the closer – Souk Eye – slowly builds up is perfection, those sweeping synths at the very end sound gorgeous.
While not as ambitious as Demon Days or Plastic Beach, this new Gorillaz record is definitely a good one. A great collection of upbeat, yet melancholic songs, The Now Now is destined to be a perfect soundtrack for the summer.