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Album Review

It's tempting to judge Gorillaz — Damon Albarn, Tank Girl creator Jamie Hewlett, and Dan "The Automator" Nakamura's virtual band — just by their brilliantly animated videos and write the project off as another triumph of style over substance. Admittedly, Hewlett's edgy-cute characterizations of 2-D, Gorillaz' pretty boy singer (who looks a cross between the Charlatans' Tim Burgess and Sonic the Hedgehog), sinister bassist Murdoc, whiz-kid guitarist Noodle, and b-boy drummer Russel are so arresting that they almost detract from Gorillaz' music. The amazing "Thriller"-meets-Planet of the Apes clip for "Clint Eastwood" is so visually clever that it's easy to take the song's equally clever, hip-hop-tinged update of the Specials' "Ghost Town" for granted. And initially, Gorillaz' self-titled debut feels incomplete when Hewlett's imagery is removed; the concept of Gorillaz as a virtual band doesn't hold up as well when you can't see the virtual bandmembers. It's too bad that there isn't a DVD version of Gorillaz, with videos for every song, à la the DVD version of Super Furry Animals' Rings Around the World. Musically, however, Gorillaz is a cutely caricatured blend of Albarn's eclectic Brit-pop and Nakamura's equally wide-ranging hip-hop, and it sounds almost as good as the band looks. Albarn has fun sending up Blur's cheeky pop on songs like "5/4" and "Re-Hash," their trip-hop experiments on "New Genious" and "Sound Check," and "Song 2"-like thrash-pop on "Punk" and "M1 A1." Despite the similarities between Albarn's main gig and his contributions here, Gorillaz isn't an Albarn solo album in disguise; Nakamura's bass- and beat-oriented production gives the album an authentically dub and hip-hop-inspired feel, particularly on "Rock the House" and "Tomorrow Comes Today." Likewise, Del tha Funkee Homosapien, Miho Hatori, and Ibrahim Ferrer's vocals ensure that it sounds like a diverse collaboration rather than an insular side project. Instead, it feels like a musical vacation for all parties involved — a little self-indulgent, but filled with enough fun ideas and good songs to make this virtual band's debut a genuinely enjoyable album.

Customer Reviews

Great Album

Out of the main studio albums that Gorillaz has released thier debut is by far their best work. The songs 19-2000, Tommorow Comes Today, and Clint Eastwood are classics, but the songs 5/4, Slow Country, and Sound Check (Gravity) are the best on the album. If you are not a fan of the Gorillaz that is fine, but if you are a fan of Alt rock this album is an album you must listen to. It just sounds and feels very unigue.

Awsome band


Authentically Revolutionary

Combining alternative rock, hip hop, dub, and some reggae and electronic influences, this technicolor album is an experience in and of itself. It manages to weave these different genres into a work of art that offers a variety of sounds to listeners of all demographics. Albarn's vocals lend the full range of their reedy imploring tone to 2D, knowing when to take front stage as they do in the in-your-face tracks "Punk" and "5/4", and when to simmer with the layered instrumentation like in "Slow Country" and "Tomorrow Comes Today". In fact, the instrumentation is allowed plenty of room to take center stage, memorably in the jittery track "Double Bass". Even if you aren't a fan of the admittedly somewhat calamitous and eclectic tracks on this album, you will find that the wonderfully animated videos and art by Jamie Hewlett add another dimension to this project. The image is just as vital as the music to this animated band, and the characters are designed to draw you into this grungy, colorful world, creating a full immersion in the strange and indulgent experience of the Gorillaz. Most impressive is the band's ability to fully utilize the creative capacity of our current technological climate. While many artists continue to box themselves into one category and neglect their full potential, this project dives head first and drags the listener right down with it as it explores new ways to create in this rapidly changing world. While some may shy away at this deviance from the musical norm, claiming it lacks the authenticity of more conventional musicians, a strong argument can be made for the opposite. By removing the celebrity image we've grown so accustomed to, the Gorillaz invent a new way to produce quality art that's just as fun and exciting to witness today as it was fourteen years ago. A clear strike against the argument that one must remain within conservative means to create timeless and meaningful work. An engaging experience for both the eyes and ears, this album is a step towards the future of creativity.


Formed: 2000 in London, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Conceived as the first "virtual hip-hop group," Gorillaz blended the musical talents of Dan "The Automator" Nakamura, Blur's Damon Albarn, Cibo Matto's Miho Hatori, and Tom Tom Club's Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz with the arresting visuals of Jamie Hewlett, best known as the creator of the cult comic Tank Girl. Nakamura's Deltron 3030 cohorts Kid Koala and Del tha Funkee Homosapien rounded out the creative team behind the Gorillaz quartet, whose virtual members included 2-D, the cute but spacy...
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Gorillaz, Gorillaz
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