Gorillaz
Demon Days


4.0
excellent

Review

by John weathered old reviewer Hanson EMERITUS
May 23rd, 2006 | 410 replies


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist


During the summer of 7th grade, a rather strange movement took place in my area, and in my age group. While they had always been slightly interesting, music videos began to be taken very seriously. The summer of 2001 saw many a video gain notoriety; Sum 41's Fat Lip, System of a Down[/i]'s [i]Chop Suey, and Linkin Park's Crawling all gained huge airplay on the new video channel, MTV2. While it had overtaken the beloved "The Box" channel, us preteens still flocked to it in droves, looking at all the strange and interesting things they were doing with videos. However, there was one video that stood out from the rest. It was a strange and singularly wondrous creation; an animated video with giant monkeys destroying things. Very few knew what to make out of anything in the video, whether it be those gorillas or the ghost coming out of a large black man's head. However, Gorillaz had made a lasting impact in my mind, and I immediately sought out the album that contained Clint Eastwood.

Upon my purchase, however, I was fairly disappointed. While it was pretty good I thought, none of it lived up to the hype or Clint Eastwood in my eyes. While at the time I wasn't a large proponent of hip hop, and I didn't have a clue as to who Dan the Automator or Del tha Funky Homosapien were, I knew this: I didn't enjoy the album. That's why when I heard announcement of this, I took it with a large grain of salt. When the (now) gigantic single came out, Feel Good Inc., I figured I just wasn't going to like the album once again. The song was just so bland to me. However, as the months went on, I gradually started t like the song more and more, and upon a listening of Kids With Guns, I was intent upon buying the album. Unlike their previous effort, Demon Days is truly an excellent effort.

This time around, Danger Mouse takes the rein in production over Dan, and surprisingly, he works far better. While Dan is undoubtedly a superior producer and much more polished, Danger Mouse (hereto forth known as "Da Mouse", as per my wishes) just interacts better with Damon Albarn (of Blur fame, although its arguable his success with Gorillaz has reached that, at least here in the States), the album feeling far more fleshed out and concise. The loose storyline is fit together well by a very smooth track flow; while it may not be perfectly flowing, it's still a sublime experience almost all the way through. Da Mouse has crafted a dark, brooding affair, and while some of the tracks may indicate a lightheartedness not generally expected, it's usually done in such a fashion that your listening experience is exponentially heightened. It's arguably his best work thus far, and it's no wonder why he is perhaps the best current producer in hip-hop.

While Da Mouse may be one half of the creative process, Albarn still proves he knows what he's doing. His voice comes together perfectly with Da Mouse's beats and production, and while he may be a tad bit monotonous at first listen, his voice will grow on you until you wonder how come you were never a Blur fan in the first place. While it is a strong presence in most tracks, it is showcased perfectly in the best song of the album, El Manana. It's truly the encapsulating song of the album; Albarn gives an absolutely haunting and outstanding vocal performance, singing of... well, it's pretty much up for interpretation, but I personally think it's a mans final words before he dies. Regardless, the songwriting here is beyond anything else on the album, and it's easily the most touching song on the album, mostly due to the utter lack of hope in Albarn's voice.

While El Manana is undeniably a strong song, there are others that come close to it, such as Kids With Guns and the final three tracks that invariably end up bleeding together for me, Fire Coming Out Of The Monkey's Head/Don't Get Lost In Heaven/Demon Days. Much of this album is very minimalist in tone, with Da Mouse going for atmosphere instead of a driving force that actually ends up working better in the long run, and Kids With Guns embodies that. Initially and for most of the song being held together only by an excellent bass line and sporadic drums, it's an extremely laid back and relaxed adventure in current society and its degenerating values (particularly in regards to violence, probably of the Gun-nature). You never get overwhelmed by the song, and it does just enough to keep you hooked and interested the whole way through, something that is rarely done in hip hop or even the "mainstream" in general these days.

While that minimalist quality is fine, the conclusion of the album opts to go the complete other direction as compared to most of it. However, you'd never guess when just listening to the spoken word track, Fire Coming Out Of The Monkey's Head. Once again featuring a smooth bass line, Dennis Hopper is an ingenious match to tell the story of the Mountain Folk. Lyrically, it's the strongest track on the album, telling of how the greedy outsiders ruin the lives of the native Mountain Folk with their greed for jewels, a rather interesting (if not quite original) take on, once again, current society. The final lines from Hopper are at once anti climatic and rather depressing, and the coda provided by Albarn once again fits his strange and unique presence within Gorillaz.

Then of course, comes the end to the album, Don't Get Lost in Heaven/Demon Days. Completely abandoning the dark feel of the almost the entirety of the album, they are classical romps in various genres of music. While it initially feels out of place, and may continue to feel that way in some cases, I've come to expect nothing less for an ending to this album than the general happiness of these tracks. It's almost a sort of chastisement to the rest of the album, taking the gloom seeping throughout it and casting it aside. Albarn actually sounds lighthearted in the first half, and Da Mouse has to be given props to putting together a slightly pretentious, but altogether epic end to his first mainstream hit. However, the main credit has to be given to the London Community Gospel Choir, who sound incredible and give the album a life not previously seen.

The album may not be perfect, of course. There are some tracks that just drag on and/or are uninteresting, such as Last Living Souls and O Green World, and there are some that can become slightly annoying (Dare and the only truly bad song on the album, White Light. Come to mind), but in general the album is a strong foray into the melding of hip-hop into pop and rock music. While nu-metal and the supposed "rap metal" genres have tried to incorporate the two to varied success, Da Mouse and Albarn due it seamlessly and flawlessly, and with minimal actual rapping. While it's not certain, if the Gorillaz do continue on, this album could very well end up being their masterpiece, and in time, maybe even a classic. Lesser albums have reached that status, and less innovative ones at that. For the time being, though, Demon Days is an excellent tryst in all the previously mentioned genres. Now, if only they could recruit a permanent rapper, and be done with the fun, but sometimes bland guest spots, they would be complete... ah, Kool Keith in Gorillaz... a dream of mine that will never come true.

Reccomended Tracks For Your Listening Pleasure...

Feel Good Inc.
El Manana
Fir Coming Out Of The Monkeys Head




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Comments:Add a Comment 
Zebra
Moderator
May 23rd 2006


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Excellent job on the review. This is a huge improvement from the last one.

I've never understood what was so good about this album. Kids With Guns, El Manana and the title track all bore me. I think some of the best songs are White Light and the truly unique Fire Coming out of A Monkeys Head are the albums strongest points.

Two-Headed Boy
May 23rd 2006


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good job with the review, but it's a bit snobbish of you to say that it sucks that the other review has been popular.



Fantastic album, by the way.This Message Edited On 05.23.06

Electric City
Emeritus
May 23rd 2006


15760 Comments


Great review.

DARE pwns.

Two-Headed Boy
May 23rd 2006


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Your Mom pwns. :cool:

Salsabandana
May 23rd 2006


3 Comments


This review was extremely well written but I wish you had acknowledged how Gorillaz piggy backed on George Michaels' fame to spawn their huge success.

The Jungler
May 23rd 2006


4826 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good job on the review Iluvatar, I was tempted to write a review for this as well. I really enjoy both Gorillaz albums, though I think this is slightly better. Your grammar and coding suffered a few mistakes though.

icaught fire444
May 23rd 2006


622 Comments


i honestly dont know about these guys. there all computers, and thats really stupid. Clint Eastwood was good, but every other song ive ever heard from these guys was terrible. Feel good inc was really stupid, and you cant understand what half of them say. i dont even know if they have a genre of music. to me they sound like stoner techno sorta lets try to make rap kinda music. it just doesnt entertain me.

kno_kontrol
May 23rd 2006


448 Comments


your best review thusfar imo. Great album, and good job.

pulseczar
May 23rd 2006


2385 Comments


[qupte]Your Mom pwns. [/quote]

Wow, talk about kissing Eliminator's ass.

Bron-Yr-Aur
May 23rd 2006


4405 Comments


This review is amazingly amazing. May I kiss your rectum?

[quote=Iluvatar]Clint Eastwood[/quote]

F*cking awesome.This Message Edited On 05.23.06

Acey
May 24th 2006


2578 Comments


Feel Good Inc. is a sweet song, good review as well!This Message Edited On 05.23.06

DesolationRow
May 25th 2006


833 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Very good review, but i can't agree with the rating. Gorillaz try to be different, but are very bad at it. This however, is much better than their self titled.

onefortheman25
May 25th 2006


196 Comments


trying to be different is an oxymoron

onefortheman25
May 25th 2006


196 Comments


A quote talking about what I mean.

Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.
C. S. Lewis
English essayist & juvenile novelist (1898 - 1963)



Brain Dead
May 25th 2006


1150 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I don't think Dare's annoying, I just think it's really boring.

Cravinov13
May 25th 2006


3854 Comments


the female vocals on taht song annoy me

Brain Dead
May 25th 2006


1150 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I find it boring because it only has a dance melody, with not many vocals. Not good stuff if you want to sit down and listen to some good music.

Zebra
Moderator
May 25th 2006


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I don't find the music very boring I just find it to be very stripped down at points. For example Kids With Guns isn't a very boring song but it just drags on with the same bassline for to long. Another example would be El Manana, the music is kind of groovy and fun but the song doesn't really seem to go anywhere.

Electric City
Emeritus
May 25th 2006


15760 Comments


I think it's definitely one of the best songs of the year. I like that funky music white monkey.

Honeymoon_Croon
May 26th 2006


297 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ecellent review and excellent album. I haven't gotten my own copy of it yet, but it seems to be a lot better than the self-titled



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