After postponement, the Gorillaz released their 5th album, Humanz, this past Friday, April 28. By the nature of all of the singles the group debuted, it was very clear they marked a new direction for the band.
After much confusion inspired by this new sound, the album finally gives context to these new singles as they play nicely with the other songs — it’s just a sound people aren’t used to hearing from the Gorillaz. This wouldn’t be the first of their albums to shift away, but the sound is nearly all hip-hop and the album features over 20 other artists. With that many artists and that many different sounds, it appears the Gorillaz only made a few appearances.
Rolling Stone magazine seemed to think that these artists were, “underutilized on half-baked material,” and that Damon Albarn’s, the lead vocalist for the band, ability to keep the sound moving was what tied the album together. Really, it just seems as though there was too much they wanted to shove into one album and they didn’t get to keep their own sound.
Sophomore history education major Matthew Hoke seemed to like the change, saying, “It was definitely different from what I’ve heard of them — but it’s a good change, I think.”
This album does have a lot of really enjoyable things to keep you listening. Pushing the envelope — it has enough political charge to cause sparks. Humanz hits hard and fast with “Ascension,” that paints the reality of the way many Americans feel disconnected by dystopian-like politics, while later in the album, “Hallelujah Money” takes a shot at the way current politics and the way that it seems as though only those with money have a voice.
What will also keep you listening are the solid tracks that are scattered throughout. “Saturnz Barz” will stick in your head for the rest of the day and near the end of the album, “The Apprentice,” is invigorating and fresh, keeping a distinctive Gorillaz sound.
Overall, this album is a lot to handle at once and is going to take some time to make sense but it’s without a doubt worth a few listens if you’re into hip-hop, any of the featured artists or the Gorillaz.