Gorillaz – Humanz (Deluxe Edition) Album Review

It barely feels like the 7 years it’s been since Gorillaz released their previous album Plastic Beach, or 6 if you include The Fall, but they’re back with what’s been aimed as a disco club album according to Damon Albarn, that we will see. If lead single Saturnz Barz didn’t tempt your curiosity enough, we’re not sure what will, as with all Gorillaz albums you can expect a vast majority of genres breaking the boundaries as usual.

One thing we will say about Humanz is it’s the most out there album Gorillaz ever done with the most risks taken, which as you’d expect in many areas do play off, though in others be prepared for some track skipping over time.

If there’s something you definitely get out of this album, it’s your moneys worth, 20 tracks on the Standard version, whilst the Deluxe Edition adds another six to that total, so yeah we’ve 26 tracks to review for this one album … well, not exactly. Throughout Humanz are 6 (or 7 on the Deluxe) ‘Interlude’ tracks which as you’d expect aren’t songs rather than mood-setters. So by that logic, there’s 19 full tracks on the Deluxe, and 14 on the Standard version.

But, let’s quit our rambling and get straight to it, this is the full complete review of the Standard and Deluxe album by Gorillaz, this is Humanz!

Intro: I Switched My Robot Off

This track literally consists of an echoing voice claiming they’ve switched their Robot Off … great?

Ascension (feat Vince Staples)

Ascension is not exactly a great beginning to Humanz, whilst Vince Staples is a pretty popular rapper lately, the chorus is so weak, boring and repetitive, the song just falls flat. Whilst the middle-8 with Damon’s vocals give it something, in the end Ascension continues to be as we’ve rated it, one of the worst tracks on Humanz. BUT, some people think it’s great, so that good ol’ word opinion is back again, though to us, it’s skip territory.

The sky’s falling, baby

Drop that ass ‘fore it crash (higher)

[x4]

rating4Strobelite (feat Peven Everett)

Strobelite is the first take on Damon’s original intend on Humanz being a disco felt album, with club beats and just a great Synth throughout, Strobelite could get away with being called Disco Light! The vocals throughout are provided by Peven Everett, who if we’re honest we’ve not heard off, but just like with Demon Days where we’d hardly heard of anyone, that’s certainly not a bad thing. Peven provides a fantastic club vocal with that level of enthusiasm and charisma which perfectly suits the almost 70s felt disco vibe throughout.

The only problem with Strobelite is that it’s incredibly hard to identify it as a Gorillaz track, but at least it’s a great track where this happens. As we mentioned previously Peven Everett provides a great vocal, plus near the end where he’s literally dropping with the backing, just sounds epic.

When you’re drivin’ night is dreamin’

Livin’ the strobe light

And you will find the life you needed

Livin’ the strobe light

Saturnz Barz (feat Popcaan)

Saturnz Barz of course is the first single from Humanz (at least in most countries), which of course begins with the strong Reggae vocals provided by one of the newer acts Popcaan. Saturnz Barz though is easily the one track on the album that will have to grow on you to truly appreciate it. When we first heard it, we were a bit worried about where it was going, but honestly after a few extra listens we completely love it.

Unlike Sean Paul, who’s also a Jamaican rapper, Popcaan has a much stronger Jamaican accent which will mean it’s rather hard to follow his lyrics (and can also sing unlike Sean Paul) though the feel of the track with those heavy disco drums, the almost spacey feel of the whole sound gets perfectly completed by the 2D vocal by Damon you were almost waiting for throughout, which is especially apparent in the very strange music video. All of theses aspects make this easily one of our favourite tracks, which almost turns in to a chilled feel near the end after the middle 8, it’s hard to not love with all the depth throughout!

(All my life)

I’m in the stakin’ bar, I got debts and I’m a debaser

(All my life)

Saturnz about to make love and I’m just a heartbreaker

(All my life)

And I won’t get a take in, cause I’m out when I’m stakin’

And the rings I am breaking. Are making you a personal day

Momentz (feat De La Soul)

Momentz brings the return of one of the Gorillaz’ regulars De La Soul. After featuring on Feel Good Inc and Superfast Jellyfish, they’re back with Momentz. The song kicks off with just plain rap with no music other than a very weak synth, backed up by one of the aspects of the song you’ll get used to with the whole band going “MOMENTS”, which instantly gets overtaken by the strongest drum beat you’re going to hear on the album and some rather indistinguishable 2D vocals which features occasionally, then taken off again the rest.

The song also features some vocal backing which repeats “Plastic on the Ceiling”, which almost sounds like it could be a typical Noodle backing, reminiscent of 19-2000. Of all the songs off the album which weren’t teased previously, this once again became a favourite instantly, it’s so much depth and similar to De La Soul’s own recent album, it takes you back to that classic era of Hip Hop where it was just great music and no weak-ass lyrics. We’re also in love with the way the album finishes with that same sound and feel we just enjoyed from Strobelite, which adds extra depth to a song full of it.

Clocks on the wall, talk to watches on the wrist

It’s the “moments” we relive, it’s the moments like this

When it’s time to get ill, we be so ahead of time

It’s the “moments” we achieve. Best believe it’s the “moments”

Interlude: The Non-Conformist Oath

The first of many Interludes, like the Intro, these have no concept, but does offer the intro to the next track Submission.

Submission (feat Danny Brown & Kelela)

Submission features lead vocals by both Kelela and Danny Brown, but kicks off with Kelela. Easily the worst parts of the tracks, honestly consist of EVERYTHING Danny Brown provides! Seriously, he offers absolutely nothing but a terrible rap and terrible vocals we’re not a fan of at all. Plus, to add to the that, the song has nothing that special to it.

And it got to me, when you state your love

But you run away, what could you be on?

Now you’re not around, but I hope you see

Gotta be full-on, it is up to me, it’s all I got

rating4Charger (feat Grace Jones)

Charger is a very interesting one, kicking off with a repeating Guitar rift which get used to as it pretty much consists throughout, with a very distinction “I am the ghost” by Grace Jones, though other than that Grace Jones doesn’t really provide much to the song and it ends up being a mainly 2D led vocal.

The song itself definitely defines the un-attemptable genre definition of Alternative, whilst Damon provides the main rather higher pitch vocal arrangement which keeps the song, whilst Grace Jones honestly just speaks and laughs, but in a rather strange way, it becomes rather intriguing in such a way, we actually don’t mind the track at all.

A cha-charger – Everything is supposed to get in

I just don’t know where I’m a-getting from

A cha-charger – What is the cause of it, and

Well in that case, how do you know it’s your own?

A cha-charger – What do you say now?

Thought you could use it when the flowers have grown

A cha-charger – What did you do in it?

I bet you’re racing it, I’m left in a stew, chikuchi

Interlude: Elevator Going Up

Elevator going up … that’s literally the 3 seconds that consumes.

rating4Andromeda (feat D.R.A.M.)

Andromeda is a song which Damon recently dedicated to the death of his mother who he naturally misses, but how it became an almost ad-lib track about those who have passed away, most noticeable being the recent death of Bobby Womack, with the vocals “it was Bobby gracing”. Bobby Womack who had featured on the track Stylo from Plastic Beach, as well as worked with Damon on what became his final album, The Bravest Man in the Universe.

Damon even stated in an interview that the middle 8 of the track was actually performed whilst getting so emotional he was practically crying on the vocal, which is incredible when you hear that as the track itself actually sounds incredible positive throughout, which is one of the magics of music, how such can be hidden throughout, seemingly more so with the “take it in your heart now, lover” backing.

Back to when it was cool

Cause there’s no substitute

Who even knows the truth?

The truth, the truth

(Take it in your heart now, love her)

Busted and Blue

Whilst we spoke about how tracks such as Momentz was full of depth, Busted and Blue is fully stripped down, and perfectly follows the ending of Andromeda in to what can only be described as a beautiful vocal by Damon. The track speaks of what sounds like a man looking through the world as it is and questioning the world we live in and how it is as it is, and how the one hope in life is that attachment to those closest, made apparent in the striking chorus, which with the added echoed clicks and the chorus vocals of Be my Love, and Be My Light just honestly perfect a beautiful track.

All my life, All my life

Be my light, on me, I am a satellite

And I can’t get back without you

(Be my love, Be my love. Be my light, Be my light.)

Interlude: Talk Radio

Another rather odd Interlude track, Talk to me indeed?!

Carnival (feat Anthony Hamilton)

Carnival is a very strange track, but not in a good way. Whilst it has a great dark and mysterious sound, the vocals provided by Anthony Hamilton just don’t provide the track any context and don’t seem to fit together in anyway. Having said that we do expect this track will likely grow on some people, though for us it really just doesn’t seem to belong where it’s been taken.

The song sounds likes trying to be some epic track, whilst also attempting to be a soft vocal, which to us just doesn’t work and makes it awkward to listen to. It’s not terrible, but it’s hardly that great either.

We… (Just like a carnival)

We laughed (Just like a carnival)

Sleep with the dead (Just like a carnival)

Playing with your mind (Just like a-)

Spinning me round and around and around

Just like a carnival, yeah

rating4Let Me Out (feat Mavis Staples & Pusha T)

Let Me Out is a rather short track, seriously its over before its even begun. Kicking off with Pusha T rap, the track also features the same cut effect out in certain vocals which Ascension also features. Let Me Out is also a great example of a club sounding track, which features a decent rap by Pusha T, a great build up by Mavis Staples and then finishes the recipe with two lines by the classic 2D vocal.

The sound of the track offers that same mysterious spacey synth feel throughout the track which is becoming more apparent at this point through the album, and that backing sounds great too.

Something I’ve begun to fear is about to change its form

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s a shift in times, but I won’t get tired at all

Interlude: Penthouse

Penthouse sounds like someone walking on stage, that’s all we got.

Sex Murder Party (feat Jamie Principle & Zebra Katz)

Sex Murder Party is another almost perfect club track of the album, which has an incredible beat, that same incredible feel, which honestly sounds even better with the aid of the Jamie Principle vocals, all of which just add to that mystery throughout.

Zebra Katz almost sound like a robotic computer, made even more apparent by the darker shift during his verse, vocals of which almost remind us of something you’d expect from Faithless.

The song ends with the title repeated with some incredible harmonising by all which once again add to the incredible sound the song has delivered. The only reason we couldn’t 5 star the song literally comes down to Damon’s vocals, which honestly could have been so much better, don’t get me wrong near the end they sound great harmonising, though the chorus falls slightly flat for us.

I drove the kids, I drove the kids

In the tears of your priority

Dissolve the kids, dissolve the kids

In the tears of your priority

She’s My Collar (feat Kali Uchis)

She’s My Collar is easily the best song of Humanz, the track is mostly an entire 2D vocal, with just one middle verse provided by the featured act Kali Uchis, to which she definitely adds a lot to the feel of the track. This is the club anthem though off Humanz.

Kicking off with simply a strong repeated drum, then bridges in to one of the beat R’n’B sounds we’ve heard in a good while, the usual clap effect bass beat with strokes of synth which all together with the funk sounding vocals throughout leave you in an impossible trance of just dancing left-to-right and back, which is the pure definition of what a perfect disco sound should do. The featuring of the title, “She’s My Collar” also is perfectly added not only in verses, but also surrounding the backing, all of which honestly just sound incredible! Then when Kali Uchis adds her bit, whilst a rather small verse, that and the added ending backing just honestly perfect it.

She’s my serpentine, she’s my collar

I send a message, never call her

And now I wanna taste another

And it’s safe in a persona, she’s my collar

Nothing to be justified yet

She’s the first I’m running with

She’s the one that gets my collar

She’s the one I’m running with

Interlude: The Elephant

Another strange interlude, something about an Elephants trunk … okay.

rating4Hallelujah Money (feat Benjamin Clementine)

Hallelujah Money for many is a very confusing track mainly as instead of being a singing or rapping track, it’s a narrative, to which Benjamin Clementine adds an almost creepy dark gospel like narrative surround the world we live in. The song is clearly a protest to the surrounding dictatorship of Leaders worldwide, though never specifying one or the other and going fully world-wide.

The song uses the concept of a Tree as the narrative of moving through the generations of time. The concept of Hallelujah Money is clearly a derivative of how money is beginning to rule power, rather than the regular views of the people.

When the morning comes, we are still human

How will we know?

How will we dream?

How will we love?

How will we know?

(Hallelujah Money, past the country)

We Got the Power (feat Jenny Beth)

We Got the Power is a full on pop feel good track, which is just a perfect way to finish the Standard version of the album. Whilst the vocals of Jenny Beth only seem to be backing vocals and “We Got the Power” in French, the song whilst incredibly short offers a great fast-paced feel good track, to which the lyrics kind of speak for themselves which is a great aspect.

We’ve got the power to be loving each other

No matter what happens, we’ve got the power to do that

(On a le pouvoir de s’aimer, okay?)

We’ve got the power to be

Ringing the great bell out there above us

We’ve got the power for that. We got the power to do that


———-DELUXE ALBUM———-

Interlude: New World

New World is the longest of the Interludes on the album, consisting of a strong dark synth rift which kicks in to a drum beat like of which you’d expect of The Fall, which lyrics almost linking previous Interludes.

The Apprentice (feat Rag’n’Bone Man, Zebra Katz & RAY BLK)

The Apprentice is another one of those songs which falls victim to being impossible to see as a Gorillaz track, other than the very subtle “Cold” repeats during the chorus and the verse builds up, but a song featuring Rag’n’Bone Man you know is going to be at least a decent song, and it most definitely is. The song is probably the most pop sounding song on the album, which runs through three stages, the great vocals of Rag’n’Bone Man transitions to Zebra Katz, but we’re a big fan of how the mood just shifts down from the upbeat positives when RAY BLK kicks in, the song suddenly gains a sense of urgency which works really well.

Now, we’ll get to this as we go through the rest of the Deluxe Album, though we’ll tell you this straight away, this is pretty much the best song by a mile through the Deluxe tracks, which when we get to the rest, that’s not a good thing.

I am a mirror

I am a broken screen, I’m a mad routine, that’s just patterned out

And I’m over it (It’s cold, it’s cold, it’s cold)

I am a mirror

I am a distant voice, I’m inside your head, and you don’t know me

I am over it (It’s cold, it’s cold, it’s cold)

Halfway to the Halfway House (feat Peven Everett)

Halfway to the Halfway House begins sounding like some alert sound you’d expect to hear from a Gerry Anderson creation, and a much darker feel than Strobelight, which Peven Everett features on earlier. The problem with the song however, is that it never really builds up from that, to the point where we actually prefer the sound of the Interlude: New World, more than this!

The song almost feels under produced and definitely a victim of filler territory, I mean look at those chorus lyrics, what’s even going on there. The song is listenable, but falls in the same trap Carnival did, where it’s just incredibly forgetful and not that enjoyable to listen to by choice.

Cherry (Cherry)

Cherryade fountain

I found mercy (I found mercy)

I found mercy (I found mercy)

Out of Body (feat Kilo Kish, Zebra Katz & Imani Vonshà)

Out of Body kicks off with what sounds like a robotic phone voice, which is almost creepy in some regards, provided by Kalo Kish. The song then kicks up further when the chorus kicks in, which lightens up the song a bit. The song is very similar sonically to Sweepstakes, from Plastic Beach if anyone remembers that, in that on paper and first few listens nothing seems to be going on, but in a weird way is rather hypnotically not too bad.

The song does progressively build in to that same disco feel which Humanz appears to be attempting at, all of which is perfectly completed by the storming lyrics towards the end by Imani Vonshà, which almost have a heavy soul diva feel to them, which are completed by Damon with some 2D flairs towards the end. Whilst the song is better than Halfway to the Halfway House, it’s still not great.

Out of body from morning to night

Dance low, pat, and I’m feeling alright

Out of body from morning to night

Dance low, pat, and I’m feeling alright

Out of body from morning to night

Dance low, pat, and I’m feeling alright

Out of body from morning to night

Dance low, pat, and I’m feeling alright

rating4Ticker Tape (feat Carly Simon & Kali Uchis)

Ticker Tape is the definition of a slow jam, featuring a mainly Damon vocal which sounds great thankfully mainly due to the pure sound of his voice, with no megaphone effect which has, let’s be fair, been more than overused throughout the album. The song almost has a Michael Jackson feel to it, which we’re completely digging and really gets in your head after a few listens, which don’t know about you but that’s the definition of a great song to us.

The song is very similar to Saturnz Barz in the regards of this being another grower, when you first hear the track you’ll probably be left rather “meh”, but trust us after a few more listens it’ll be on the list of regular playbacks.

Ticker tape

Ticker tape

Tick-tick-ticker tape

Ticker tape

Circle of Friendz (feat Brandon Markell Holmes)

The Deluxe album ends with Circle of Friendz, a very short ending song, which should have realistically been the final Interlude, it’s barely 2 minutes and literally the lyrics we captioned are the entirety of the lyrics, which just repeat throughout over some backing from the choir and a simple string throughout.

The song is simple, but the annoying thing we find about the song is it sounds like it could have been the next ‘Don’t Look Back in Heaven’ and ‘Demon Days’, from Demon Days, in that it could have been that gospel epic ending to the album, however instead you’re left with a weak ending which is just underwhelming!

Circle of, circle of, circle of

My circle of friends

Everyday, everyday

See the world brand new

 


STANDARD VERSION OF THE ALBUM, WE RATE AS 8 OUT OF 10
Humanz is an album which takes a lot more risks than previous Gorillaz albums, however for the most part the risks do pay off and produce an incredible sounding album throughout. That doesn’t mean there’s no doozies, I mean we’d be happy if Ascension and Carnival just weren’t there, but that’s the nature of most albums these days, and that’s made up so much more by tracks such as the single Saturnz Barz, She’s My Collar, Sex Murder Party, to name only a few.

Whilst Humanz continues the trend of a Gorillaz album different to the previous, we think Humanz in particular will be very much liked by those preferring of the Gorillaz (debut album) and Demon Days style, which Humanz perfectly accommodates.

DUE TO THE LIST OF DISAPPOINTMENTS FROM THE DELUXE EDITION TRACKS OFF THE ALBUM, WE’RE GIVING THE DELUXE EDITION A LOWER 7 OUT OF 10
Deluxe Edition: One thing we will add about the Deluxe Edition of the album is this, don’t get it. Seriously, out of the technically 6 tracks, barely 2 are worth your listen, ‘The Apprentice’ and ‘Ticker Tape’, so we’d ironically recommend saving some money on the Standard, and just buying the two Deluxe songs, seriously.

Humanz by Gorillaz is out now and available on CD, Vinyl plus a Deluxe Box Set, as well as through digital channels, some of which are listed below;

Download on iTunes Download on Play Music Download on Amazon MP3

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