Gorillaz's Humanz was one of the most divisive releases last year. The fact was that there was just a bit too much to swallow for them, and it was largely a mess. Now that time has passed, however, it seems that Damon Albarn's vision has become more crystallized. Gorillaz settle into their new sound in The Now Now, a chill but actualized album that seems more centered than their last effort.
There's always been a satirical and whimsical side to Gorillaz's classics, and part of that returns in this album. Opening track 'Humility' with George Benson is super chill, its dinky and free atmosphere really laying the foundations for the record. The Now Now is an album that never sounds too serious, and it all works out for the better here. From the interesting disco groove that seems just flashy enough to be satire in 'Hollywood' featuring Snoop Dogg and James Principle to the floaty atmosphere and ghastly synths of 'Fire Flies,' this new vibe the Gorillaz is exploring really comes to fruition.
What was missing from Humanz was consistency. While The Now Now has much the same sound, it just feels more cohesive overall, and not interspersed with awkward skits or burdened by its length, either. The wonderful melodies of 'Tranz' and its overall darker atmosphere pair perfectly with the album's aesthetic while maintaining that free vibe, similar to 'Saturnz Barz.' Other tracks are more trippy and dreamy, like 'Kansas' and 'Idaho.' Even closing track 'Souk Eyes' keeps things chill, though its dramatic build adds some drive late in the record to make sure it doesn't leave you off on a weak note. This really feels overall like what Albarn set out to accomplish with Humanz, but got lost off the road less-taken and ultimately missed the mark with.
Gorillaz settle into their new sound in The Now Now, finding that perfect balance of whimsical and chill funk to keep true to their sound while still expanding upon in constructively. It's definitely a breath of fresh air for apprehensive fans and for the band itself, and while it's not quite on the level of the classics, it definitely shows Gorillaz isn't afraid to tackle something fresh and keep the meaning alive.
Favorite Tracks: Souk Eye, Tranz
Least Favorite Track: Sorcery
Rating: 74 / 100
Stream or buy The Now Now on Apple Music, and follow our 2018 Playlist on Spotify: