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.
NOTE: UNTIL THE ALBUM IS RELEASED ON FRIDAY APRIL 28TH, ONLY THE STANDARD VERSION REVIEW WILL BE SHOWN HERE, ON THE 28TH ONWARDS, THE 5 DELUXE TRACKS WILL BE ADDED AS WELL!
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)
Strobelite (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
Charger (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.
Andromeda (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
Let 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
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.
Hallelujah 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 Edition of Humanz will be added on 28th April following the release of Humanz
These tracks from the Deluxe Edition of Humanz, will be added to this review on the 28th April when the album is released.
- Interlude: New World
- The Apprentice (feat Rag’n’Bone Man, Zebra Katz & RAY BLK)
- Halfway to the Halfway House (feat Peven Everett)
- Out of Body
- Ticker Tape
- Circle of Friendz
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.
Humanz by Gorillaz is available at all music resellers from April 28th, as well as digital channels, some of which are listed below;