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 document whose star friends – Elton John, Robert Smith and St Vincent amongst them – are folded right into a fluent, sensible entire

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

At numerous factors since their 2000 debut, Gorillaz have encompassed all of those things: they have 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 concept albums about environmentalism and the apocalyptic tone of life in the 21st century; from being the item of Noel Gallagher’s derision to featuring Noel Gallagher as a special guest.

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