so after several years of silence, the Gorillaz returned in 2017 with another record! it’s time for Humanz!

Intro: I Switched My Robot Off is a nice little soundbite to kick things off. Ascension brings in Vince Staples for vocals, and its got some interesting lyrical bits here. i actually dig this one quite a bit. Strobelite taps Peven Everett for vocals, and i like the extra bits they bring the choir from the last track back for. this one’s funky and fresh, i like this one too. Saturnz Barz (which features Popcaan) never really got me. its got some neat bits but on the whole i’m not a huge fan of this one. ooh hell yeah De La Soul is back for Momentz. god this track is so close to being something i’d love. something about this just doesn’t land with me – a lot of the vocal warping and distortion become distracting rather than enhancing and the heaving electronic accompaniment feels lacking rather than deliberately minimalistic. but there is much here i want to like. Interlude: Non-Conformist Oath sure is something, huh. a little heavy handed on this one. Submission features Kelela with some really soulful vocals over some neat little chiptuney effects and some smooth synths and choral bits. plus Danny Brown is on this one! this one grew on me for sure. Charger brings in Grace Jones! that’s sick. not huge on this one overall. Interlude: Elevator Going Up is what it says on the box, haha. Andromeda features DRAM, and is a neat lil track. a very pleasant listen. Busted and Blue brings back Kalela for some vocal assistance. this is a p mellow track – seems they kept the mellow tracks between these two Interludes. Interlude: Talk Radio is kinda a strange one. Carnival has Anthony Hamilton with some really neat lines and some gorgeous deliveries, but the instrumental components of this track don’t really do it for me. Let Me Out (featuring Mavis Staples and Pusha T) tends to wash over me most listens. some neat vocals here that… i dunno don’t seem a good fit for what they’re doing instrumentally. after that is the very brief Intermission: Penthouse. Sex Murder Party (featuring Jamie Principle and Zevra Katz), is not as fun as the title would lead you to believe. She’s My Collar has a more upbeat vibe with Kali Uchis, its a p good track. i should see this one growing on me. Intermission: Elephant transitions into the final leg of the regular release of the record. Hallelujah Money is still so so good. Benjamin Clementine’s voice is haunting, and the surreal instrumentation built around it is so good. We Got the Power (featuring Jehnny Beth) feels like the start and middle of a really catchy dance track, and i appreciate it as a kind of hopeful ending to an anxious album, but man i woulda liked to see a little more in this style, or at least to have this run a little longer.

faves – Ascension, Strobelite, Submission, Hallelujah Money
dislikes –

yeah i dunno. there is a lot here – a lot of voices and a lot of sounds and a lot of experimentation but to be honest a ton of it doesn’t engage me or doesn’t interest me.

as far as thematic throughline goes, this returns to a more “Demon Days” style record, looking around and commenting on what they see. i know a portion of the record is meant to be commentary on Donald Trump’s candidacy and eventual presidency, but a lot of those felt either not present or too present. i suspect Albarn was worried about that line being crossed – in several places explicit political references have been obscured or covered in the mix, which is an interesting decision. i saw some discussion that parts of this are narrative but that is almost completely lost on me.

i don’t know how to feel about pacing on this record. i dig sound bites and sampled humor in my music, no question, but these are presented as Intermissions and seem to divide the record into somewhat thematic sections, which… i kinda see? sorta? dunno. this album loses me a lot in the middle.

on the whole, i appreciate the experimentation, but like with their debut, there’s some bits here that absolutely do not land with me and the whole seems a little jumbled.

Humanz – 4/10

the first: Gorillaz | previous: The Fall | next: The Now Now

all my reviews for Gorillaz