Gorillaz: Song Machine Season One: Strange Timez review – the poignant sound of social distancing

Damon Albarn

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Damon Albarn’s cartoon band mark their 20th anniversary with a report whose star visitors – Elton John, Robert Smith and St Vincent among them – are folded into a fluent, sensible entire

Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett’s Gorillaz project has bought tens of tens of millions of albums, spawned No 1 singles, broken America in a means no Britpop band (including Blur) ever managed, gained awards, headlined festivals, spawned its own pageant – Demon Dayz – and staged vast transcontinental area excursions. All this with out it ever turning into clear what Gorillaz is meant to be. An alt-rock star’s prolonged sneery joke on the expense of manufactured pop? A catch-all repository for a musical polymath’s teeming multiplicity of concepts? An act of self-indulgence, or a brave, boundary-pushing experiment that typically works to startling impact and typically very publicly fails?

At numerous points since their 2000 debut, Gorillaz have encompassed all of these issues: they've lurched from feeling like a stoned folly to a brilliantly creative reimagining of what a pop band could be; from a postmodern gag to the supply of evidently heartfelt idea albums about environmentalism and the apocalyptic tone of life in the 21st century; from being the thing of Noel Gallagher’s derision to that includes Noel Gallagher as a particular guest.

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