Music

Keeping an Eye Out for the Gorillaz

Gorillaz has always been a band for experimenting with genres, sounds, and concepts. The iconic fictional quartet of characters that form the members in the band’s virtual universe are recognizable and creative. The listener doesn’t hear the band’s founder Damon Albarn singing the main vocals in most of their songs, but rather they hear 2-D, the band’s fictional vocalist. They don’t hear Roses Gabor singing in songs like “Dare,” but they hear the band’s guitarist, Noodle. Gorillaz as a concept is an experiment in anonymity in an industry where profiles are what define the artists. But the band doesn’t need labels to define themselves, their lack of such things are what set them apart from other artists.

The band also tests the solidity of the mainstream by concocting blends of music in every album. Most people will know them for their hit singles “Feel Good Inc.” and “Clint Eastwood,” but the group is surprisingly more diverse than the hip-hop tracks they’re known for. They’ve produced fantastic songs like “Empire Ants,” which successfully mixed calming, almost orchestral synths in the first half to bass-filled trance instrumentals later on to create a genius flowing and mood filled experience. None of the songs sound strictly conventional, and while a lot of them are hit-or-miss attempts at bending the ideas of genre, that’s exactly why Damon Albarn created Gorillaz in the first place. He made the band to experiment, but the general consensus of critics and listeners have shown that the brilliant execution of these albums have worked in both surprising and pleasing the audience.

Their last album, The Fall, was released on Christmas Day in 2010. It received mixed but fairly positive reviews by both critics and the public. It’s been almost six years since then, and eager fans still haven’t gotten a fifth album from the group. Up until recently, they’ve gotten hardly a word from anyone involved. Albarn confirmed in 2015 that an album was in the works, but the predicted 2016 release date was pushed back to 2017. It was disappointing, but the extra time may have given Albarn time to make the album really special.

The band’s co-founder Jamie Hewlett was quoted on an Instagram post by the GorillazNorthAmerica fan account that, “…new GORILLAZ is special, really f*ckin special. Can’t be rushed. 2017, yo.” Considering that the album was already delayed before, fans have their fingers crossed that, this time, the release date is for real.

Recently, however, fans have been teased with new small pieces of media from the band. The virtual members of the band have been appearing more. Murdoc, the digital bass player of the band, has appeared in several interviews in recent months, and the social media accounts of both the band and the characters have been being updated more frequently. The Gorillaz website has been redesigned completely, and with it has come interactive stories following the lives of the fictional band members. This new activity has fans excited, as it heavily implies that 2017 could be the year of the fourth phase of the Gorillaz’s career.

As 2017 draws nearer and nearer, only time will be able to tell if the band will drop new music for the first time in six years. Some people may find the new album to be mediocre, while for others it will be an incredible creation of never-before-heard genres and sounds that will change everything they know about music. It’s all dependant on the listener. And, hey, that’s what Gorillaz is all about: experimenting. You can never be certain of what you’ll think until you’ve listened, and it’s for this reason that everyone should be keeping an eye out for the Gorillaz.

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