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Marquette Wire

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Marquette Wire

REVIEW: Gorillaz latest album “Cracker Island”

Photo via Spotify

British musician Damon Albarn and visual artist Jamie Hewlett are known for combining visual artistry, music and production to create their iconic and fictitious band, Gorillaz.

Formed in 1998, the Gorillaz story has progressed in “phases”, much like seasons of a TV show or series. The band is made up of four animated characters, each with extensive backstories and intricate personas of their own. Pieces of the band’s wide-ranging narrative are told through their expressive music videos, visual and auditory projects. Even some of the most devoted listeners have trouble keeping up with the details of the band’s imaginative world. 

Their most recent release and eighth studio album titled “Cracker Island” featured artists Thundercat, Stevie Nicks, Adeleye Omotayo, Tame Impala, Romye Robinson (Bootie Brown) of the Pharcyde, Beck and Bad Bunny. Gorillaz fuses the genres of electronic, funk, reggaeton, dub and hip-hop elements which yields the band’s distinguishable sound and style.

The opening track “Cracker Island” featuring Thundercat, delivered a perfect introduction into the overall, greater meaning of this project. Through Gorillaz’s darker and more calamitous writing, the album serves as a comment on society, capitalism and human nature.

“To grow a made-up paradise where the truth was auto-tuned  (forever cult) … But it’s sadness I consumed”

The intricate lyricism used, along with the different allegories in place here are classic for the Gorillaz as their songs usually allude to something greater, in this case, a withering, crumbling society.

The album ends on a lighter, but still thematic and expressive line from the track “Possession Island” featuring Beck, which reads, “Where things, they don’t exist and were all in this together until the end.” This track is a captivating balance between soft vocals and a lighthearted piano melody accompanied by the strumming of an acoustic guitar, definitely the slowest track, but a perfect one to end on.

“Tormenta” featuring Puerto Rican rapper and singer, Bad Bunny was an enjoyable listen overall. It felt different from the other songs on the album as it combined multiple elements of reggaeton, funk and electronic sounds that gave the track a unique and experimental sound. I loved the unexpected collaboration and thought it contributed greatly to the album overall.

Unexpectedly, my favorite track overall was “Skinny Ape.” As far as production goes, I enjoyed the combination of melancholy, dark writing fused with electric, lively instrumentals, with the track starting out soft, then slowly building into a fast-paced, electrifying listening experience. Gorillaz is known for their use of repetition and alliteration in their lyrics, and on this track, it’s perfectly placed and quite effective in relaying a deeper meaning in their lyrics.

The album’s expressive production and instruments along with its lyrical tone truly made this a unique listening experience. I find myself seeming to enjoy an album more when it requires multiple listens to understand everything the artists are trying to portray. Gorillaz has layers to their music, and sometimes hidden meanings and messages throughout their projects, and I appreciate their art because their combination of visual art and music is uncommon in the music industry today.

Listening to this entire project all at once was an experience, but probably not one that I would necessarily have again as some of the tracks from the project lack replayability. On the other hand, a few tracks really stood out for me. I liked seeing Gorillaz branch out a little bit, especially with the songs Tormenta featuring Bad Bunny and Oil featuring Stevie Nicks.

I rate the album 3.8 out 5 stars.

This story was written by Sofía Cortés, she can be reaches at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Sofía Cortés
Sofía Cortés, Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor
Sofía Cortés is the assistant editor for Arts & Entertainment. She is a junior majoring in journalism and with a writing intensive minor. Sofia is from Puerto Rico and outside of the Wire she enjoys reading, writing poetry, drawing and listening to music

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