HOLY SHIT! In the span of 4 years, Gorillaz went from the super experimental genre-fusing yet super all over the place and incohesive in sound and aesthetic album that was their self-titled record to this. I’m surprised. I mean, I knew this was gonna be good seeing that the three songs I had heard from this before listening to it were O Green World, Dirty Harry, and Feel Good Inc.: All great tracks, however, I didn’t expect it to be nearly as good as it actually was.
From front to back, unlike their self-titled debut, Demon Days has a consistent sound. Instead of roughly going from one sound to another it seems that every time the album switches its sound it does so meticulously so that it never feels unnatural flowing from these sounds. The song topics and lyrics of these songs seem much more focused and conscious than they were on their self-titled debut, too. O Green World focuses on the lack of attention that humans are paying to the environment and how much they pollute it, meanwhile Kids with Guns covers the topic of gun violence in school. Though, the overall concept of Demon Days seems to be the growing sense of depression as generations come and go. In Last Living Souls, the group ponders on whether or not their generation will be the last generation to experience happiness. Meanwhile, November Has Come sees MF DOOM laying down some usual bars, although the main topic of the song seems to be centered around the fear of impending doom itself. No matter what they’re covering, whether it’s pollution or criticisms of societal norms, it all has this depressing feel radiating off of the lyrics.
The sound of the album is a stark contrast from this. The instrumentals here are some of the most colorful I’ve ever heard. Whether it’s the incredibly bouncy beat on Dirty Harry with its great synth-section, the fun beat on November Has Come which perfectly compliments DOOM’s off the wall bars, the simple yet addicting guitar which is placed over these simple and quiet electronics that, despite how some may miss they’re even there, they really help the song be as great as it is on Kids with Guns, or the incredibly catchy, ever-evolving, and iconic Feel Good Inc.; this album never gets boring instrumentally. It’s such a fun and colorful listen. Almost every track has so much personality it makes me unable to put anything but a smile on my face.
The vocals from 2-D, on the contrary, have the same sad feel to them as the lyrics do. They always sound as gloomy as the lyrics, yet the vocals never sound boring. They also never contrast the sound the album is going for and, somehow, these gloomy vocals mesh together perfectly with the colorful instrumentals to create this set of uniquely happy-sad-catchy songs. With that being said, there are some low points here. The abstract Intro really isn’t a tone-setter and just feels like a weird oddity in the tracklist that goes nowhere and is super inconsequential to the overall listening experience. The title track closer feels a bit incomplete as a closer and I feel like it should offer a bit more to chew on sonically. Then there’s Don’t Get Lost in Heaven which, despite being over 2 minutes, just feels like an interlude that was just thrown into the album to pad out the runtime a tiny bit. Still, even with some tracks feeling like they could offer a bit more than they give or just be cut out entirely, Demon Days is still an amazing follow-up to a decent debut that showed a lot of potential for the band. I’m happy they capitalized on their potential and were able to make an album as great as this.
FAV TRACKS: Last Living Souls, Kids with Guns, O Green World, Dirty Harry, Feel Good Inc., Every Planet We Reach Is Dead, November Has Come, All Alone, White Light, DARE, Fire Coming out of the Monkey’s Head
LEAST FAV TRACK: Don’t Get Lost in Heaven