Gorillaz: Cracker Island review – bittersweet tunes for anxious times

Damon Albarn

Groupe / Damon Albarn 42 Views comments

A thoughtful eighth album blends Damon Albarn’s state-of-the-world considerations with the skills of collaborators from Stevie Nicks to Thundercat

Although their eighth LP discovered this cartoon band decamping to California to work with producer Greg Kurstin, it’s arduous not to speculate which benighted island the title of this report may check with. As ever, much lore plays out in the band’s videos and Jamie Hewlett’s artwork. Nevertheless it’s clear that a 2023 sense of unease powers this document, with Damon Albarn typically in bittersweet mode, pondering how a deranged cult may take over a fragile society. Familiar, however inexhaustible, founts of hysteria abound: “Machine assisted, I disappear” Albarn croons affectingly on Silent Running.

This is, concurrently, a really Albarn-forward, state-of-the-world Gorillaz document, and one full of visitors channelling totally different energies. Extra outstanding west coasters determine: Afrofuturist funk bassist Thundercat, plus the indefatigable Stevie Nicks, whose guest vocal on Oil is less the “fairylike companion” of the lyrics than a superb, bone-dry counterpoint to Albarn. Someway, even reggaeton party-bringer Dangerous Bunny sounds nuanced on his track, Tormenta. Meanwhile, on the knockout New Gold, Pharcyde rapper Bootie Brown returns (alongside Tame Impala) for a delightfully old-school call-back. It all ends on a considerate thumbs up for the opposable-thumbed, with the pogo-friendly Skinny Ape investing hope in us scrawny simians.

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