Thursday, July 4, 2019

Gorillaz - The Now Now (Kayfabe Review)

Parlaphone: 2018

It took long enough, but Stuart Pot finally got to make his own Gorillaz album. Yeah, he sneaked one out under Murdoc's broken-ass nose while they were on the Plastic Beach tour, but that was basically a solo album, with no input from any other members at all, much less a proper studio behind it. Makes me wonder though, how can The Now Now also be considered a Gorillaz album without involvement from the man who founded the band (albeit mostly through kidnappings)? Sure, three of its members are here, but without the demented brain-child of the band acting as its rudder, it's just a clutch of chummy talented musicians working together, feeding off the nostalgia of the brand to their own benefit.

It reminds me of when Jon Anderson, Bill Bruford, Rick Wakeman, and Steve Howe joined forces for an album. Everyone within prog-rock circles felt this was as close to a classic Yes reunion as folks would get (until the actual reunion called Union), but lacking Chris Squire, it wasn't really Yes, not without the bassist who formed the band present. Maybe Murdoc's relinquished some of the Gorillaz licensing rights to the other members, letting them do as they wished so long as it benefited the brand in the long run. Would fit with his recent attempts at rehabilitation. Heck, he wasn't even that sour over his cousin Ace Copular replacing him on the subsequent tour.

Anyhow, The Now Now. As mentioned, this is essentially another 2D album, but with the full, proper backing of the band. It was also mostly written on the road while Gorillaz toured Humanz, so the song writing remains comparatively slight when stacked against previous records, almost no guest features on hand. And that's fine, something like this probably needed after the celebrity-stacked bloat that was Humanz. I don't even think Stuart could make an opulent record if he tried, his simplistic songcraft reflective of his simplistic worldview. That's not a bad thing either, music sometimes best served as a laid-back sweet indulgence, especially in the summertime.

The tunes definitely sound more confident compared to the ones from The Fall, which isn't surprise considering Murdoc's overbearing abusiveness was safely tucked away in a jail cell. If you don't feel a silly grin forming on your mug after the jubilant opener Humility, I dunno' how you can be alive, my friend. Tracks like Sorcererz and Magic City keep the peppy synth-pop vibes going, while tunes like Tranz and Lake Zurich offer some classy club-ready fodder. Heck, even moodier Hollywood doesn't lose a step in dancefloor fun, what with its Jamie Principle guest-croon (Snoop's there too, doing Snoop th'angs). A couple introspective pieces like Fire Flies and Idaho keep things somewhat grounded, but overall The Now Now is a fun little offering from 2D.

One of these days though, I'd love to hear a Gorillaz album where all the band members are operating as a fully-functional unified band. The stuff of dreams, I suppose.


ACE TRACKS:
Humility
Tranz
Lake Zurich

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