Damon Albarn isn’t one to sit still for long and seems to always have something on the go. He is back with his co-conspirator Jamie Hewlett for another Gorillaz album Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez. They have this uncanny knack of pulling together the most disparate list of guest stars which works brilliantly well. The songs have been drip fed for some time now so it is great to have them all together as one album. It’s also a testament that these songs have been able to stand boldly in amongst the chaos of 2020.
The opening track Strange Timez featuring Robert Smith from The Cure had more attention straight away in what could be considered as an anthem for 2020. Beck makes an appearance of The Valley Of The Pagans which is a bit of left jab at internet fads and Instagram posers. Pac-Man featuring ScHoolboy Q has all the hallmarks of a regulation Gorillaz single and whilst it’s not out of place by any means it is a little formulaic. The 80s synth pop vibe of Chalk Tablet Towers (featuring St Vincent) is a great moment. So far I’m really liking what I’m hearing.
The Pink Phantom is one of the absolute gems on this album in an unlikely pairing with Elton John and 6LACK. Hot damn! In theory this shouldn’t work as it traverse a fine line bring together hip-hop and a theatrical feel making it emerge as a winner. Peter Hook influence is felt of Aries and one of my favourite moments in Momentary Bliss which features slowthai and Slaves. This boundary pushing song blends elements of punk, hip-hop and synth pop which definitely makes you want to get up and jump around like an animal possessed for a few minutes.
The deluxe version is well worth the investment for the extra tracks as you can never have enough Gorillaz. Load up on the platinum visa as the vinyl and other bundles that are available have some great items for the die hard fans. The extra tracks feature guests Joan As Police Woman, GoldLink with Unknown Mortal Orchestra and EARTHGANG.
Gorillaz definitely have insight with the takeaway message “Strange time to be alive”. It makes for quite the discussion thinking about what might be Song Machine Season Two. Great album, get on to it!
Album Review By Rob Lyon