AOTY 2021

Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez

Gorillaz - Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez
Critic Score
Based on 27 reviews
2020 Ratings: #189 / 821
User Score
2020 Ratings: #35
Liked by 188 people
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Gorillaz can often be a hard band to define, and their records haven't always fared well in the context they're released in - in 2020 though, it all makes perfect sense.
The Young Folks

The band plays with feature artists like a grandmaster plays with chess pieces; weaving them in confusing, but intelligent ways until it results in a complete victory.

Spectrum Culture

Juggling a wide range of genres and features, Gorillaz return to peak form on Song Machine.

The Guardian
Damon Albarn’s cartoon band mark their 20th anniversary with a record whose star guests – Elton John, Robert Smith and St Vincent among them – are folded into a fluent, brilliant whole.
Louder Than War

The canny duo of Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett return to their virtual best and can still pull the big guns from up their cartoon sleeves, as you will witness on this sprawling guest filled dystopian journey of technicolor tunes that still grab from every genre, which Albarn does best, masquerading as the infamous 2D.


Ultimately, this first installment of Song Machine ... is the most cohesive Gorillaz album since Demon Days 15 years ago.

The Independent
Over time Gorillaz’ sonic cartoonishness has dissipated, as Albarn used the vehicle to express his political discontent and explore cutting edge sounds with freedom and abandon.
The Line of Best Fit
Its maximalist aesthetics and musical creativity combine to make something intensely addictive and satisfying, but it’s still inherently hard to put your finger on what exactly it is.
‘Strange Timez’s real triumph is in the curation of its featured artists – a flagrant disregard for the rule of six has resulted in some spectacular moments.
Gorillaz should be applauded for their virtuosity, and at its best ‘Strange Timez’ is a glorious document of pop-without-barriers.
Of all of the guest-heavy Gorillaz albums, this is by some margin the leanest, meanest and grooviest set of the lot.
The Observer
Damon Albarn is the melodic anchor to this pioneering album that balances concept with fun.
The Arts Desk
Corralling this many voices is a feat in itself, but to do it in a way that makes so much sense… that’s quite extraordinary.
The Needle Drop
Gorillaz compiles a bunch of damn good singles to make a damn good album.

Through the Song Machine, Gorillaz prove more so than ever before that in their world, they can do just about anything.


Strange Timez doesn’t break a whole lot of new ground, but it’s Damon Albarn’s strongest release since Plastic Beach and an infectious celebration of the unique legacy of Gorillaz.

Entertainment Weekly

Strange Timez adds a delightful new chapter in Gorillaz’s ongoing tale of cross-pollination.

Consequence of Sound
Once again, Gorillaz’s ability to infuse their immaculately polished and idiosyncratic production with the wide-ranging talents of their guests is commendable, too, ensuring that their work remains charmingly singular by default.
The appropriateness of coining ‘Strange Timez’ at this moment doesn’t need an explanation, but Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett’s cartoon crew have always excelled at a particular brand of dystopia that feels all-too suitable for this year.

Strange Timez may have followed a different template than previous Gorillaz albums, but it is unmistakably a Gorillaz album, a record that hides its melancholy among a series of sunny, genre-bending fusions.

Rolling Stone
As always, Albarn’s ability to create dubby, drifting synthetic beauty — a kind of futurist pastoralism — remains a key ingredient to his music’s distracted wonder.
FLOOD Magazine

Rather than assume that the glut of guest stars and features pushes Albarn to the back of his own party, guess again. Every note and nuance of Song Machine bristles with the Blur frontman’s zotzed-out vision and eclecticism.

Loud and Quiet

Season One of Song Machine has a lot to offer in terms of inventive collaborations and experiments. It’s an intentionally mixed bag, but there’s surprising thematic consistency from Albarn, with his toybox approach to sound design and genre fusion. It’ll be well worth renewing a second season.

Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez by Gorillaz is a fantastic return to form. For roughly the past decade, the band has been releasing some questionable albums, some of which even massive fans hate. This, for me at least, is easily their best record since Plastic Beach. Season one of Song Machine sounds like it comes from another dimension, one a lot less dreadful than the one we currently reside in. Though it still references these 'strange times' which the world is currently dealing ... read more
#14 of my Top 50 Albums of 2020:

This album is basically Humanz… but awesome

Alright, this is gonna be a long one, so strap in! Gorillaz had a bit of a rough last decade. They started it off really well with Plastic Beach, their best album yet! It featured their best and most iconic production, they’re most conceptual assortment of tracks, and it boasted such an impressive feature list. That record ... read more
Song Machine is an absolute joy to listen to. It feels like a celebration of music and sound. This is the most consistent Gorillaz has been in a very long time.

It's hard to beat around the bush when it comes to the overall quality of the music Gorillaz have released over the last few years... it hasn't been very good. Even if 'Humanz' and 'The Now Now' had their moments, those were ultimately too scarce, especially on the latter, to make for entirely fulfilling albums that could hold their ground among the likes of 'Plastic Beach', 'Demon Days' or even their debut.

The biggest issue when it came to these releases for me was ... read more
The 2010's have definitely been a little rough for this animated band, to say the least. Gorillaz kicked off the decade with the magnificent "Plastic Beach" and an amazing Converse collaboration with "DoYaThing"... and then disappeared for a while. Things initially started to look up for the band with a big comeback and a new album, "Humanz". Unfortunately, that album and "The Now Now" were both very underwhelming and completely unimpactful albums that ... read more
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Added on: September 9, 2020