Gorillaz
The Now Now


4.1
excellent

Review

by Rowan5215 STAFF
July 5th, 2018 | 96 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: There, there.

At this point, the road-trip album is as much a part of Damon Albarn's repertoire as his timeless hooks and voice. The self-titled Blur was the start of this, less a literal recounting of places the band had been on a tour than a roadmap of America's music through the eyes of Albarn and Graham Coxon, passing through The Beach Boys, Pavement, Massive Attack and Nirvana like roadside attractions. It's an album filled with fantastic songs which hang together tenuously, occupying the same space only due to their shared connection with the Land of the Free, but it would set a benchmark to which Albarn could return more than 10 years later with The Fall. This was an America through the eyes of an introvert, rough sketches of airports and bus stops with bare hints of colour between the lines. An uninspiring album, maybe, but one which reflected the dreary, jetlagged gray of the touring schedule as well as you could hope for. But Albarn still remained curiously booth-shy on an album nearly absent of collaborations, filling half the songs with iPad twinkles and bleeps instead. Which leads us to The Now Now, the aspiring traveller's pocketbook guide to America and politics that you can take to the beach.

"Humility" might be unmatched as far as scene-setters for a Gorillaz project go. No ambient intros or indulgent interludes here, just that warm guitar immediately evoking sand between your toes and a simple lyric which all at once addresses Brexit, America and Albarn's desire for what The Now Now might do for Gorillaz: "reset myself and get back on track". That line could stand as mission statement for the whole damn thing, a flag planted in the ground where Gorillaz wiped the slate clean, but if this album largely stays musically stationary Albarn is not content to do the same with his first star turn on the soapbox since Demon Days. He runs the gamut from some of Gorillaz' darkest and most interrogatory material – yeah, never thought I would find myself moved by a cartoon frontman asking "am I incapable of healing?" but here we are – to their most unvarnished and personal. Albarn might attribute it to producer James Ford while Jamie Hewlett gives the nod to locking Murdoc in prison for an album cycle; whatever the cause, at 20 minutes shorter than your average Gorillaz project The Now Now feels shockingly complete.

This is not to say it's a flawless reset. "Hollywood" skulks in the first act like a Humanz c-side, with a solid Snoop verse overruled by Jamie Principle's godawful contributions, and "Magic City" is a surprisingly dreary affair with few of Albarn's melodic gifts on display. The album would be served well by another "Sleeping Powder" in the mix instead, or hey, just by literally including that wonderful song. As is, you may find The Now Now lacking in energy, the crackle and snap of Gorillaz at their sharpest. I'm here to say that, five albums in, that might not be a bad thing. With Humanz packed with enough Big Moments to last a lifetime, and The Fall as document of the highway hypnosis caused by the spaces inbetween those Big Moments, something like The Now Now feels uncommonly like a gift. As "Souk Eye" wound down, a spiritual brother to "Out of Time" and a defiance of the lingering darkness of "El Manana", I found myself forgetting the politics and the discourse, not bothering to try to understand or quantify. Because what we have here is an ode to just living inside those moments, big or small, instead.



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user ratings (263)
Chart.
3.1
good
other reviews of this album
Zombiejoejoe (4)
A surprising album for one of the group's best...


Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
July 5th 2018


28370 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Humanz c-side made me laugh for some reason. Solid review as ever.

Digging: Julia Holter - Aviary

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
July 5th 2018


40725 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

do I take this band too seriously? undoubtedly and unapologetically so

Gyromania
July 5th 2018


25913 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Good review. I must be the only person on this site that thinks this is the most boring album of the year. Scrapped all but "Humility" and "Lake Zurich" after 3 plays

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
July 5th 2018


40725 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

3.2 average... mayhaps you're not?

Gyromania
July 5th 2018


25913 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

I mean people downvote albums all the time on here without hearing them so idk. Most people active in threads seem to enjoy it

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 5th 2018


28370 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Full disclosure: I only listened to this once...but I remember it being pleasant and at times really cool and summer vibe-y, but nothing incredible. It's been such a crazy good week for releases so I'll have to circle back to this.

Gyromania
July 5th 2018


25913 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Yeah there's so much good stuff dropping lately. Not used to this many good releases in the middle of summer

ButtBoy
July 5th 2018


951 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

A couple great songs here. Overall kinda boring compared to other Gorillaz albums, but I appreciate the consistency throughout the album and shorter runtime. Decent record to chill out to

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 5th 2018


28370 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Last summer was the same way tbh...Lorde, Manchester Orchestra, Brand New, and Gang of Youths all dropped between June and August.



Florence + The Machine / Let's Eat Grandma are superb records, but I feel like no matter what this summer won't be able to match up to the same time in 2017.



With that said, here's another good summer album.



Gyromania
July 5th 2018


25913 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Lorde and Manchester Orchestra absolutely. Brand New was great but I'm not supposed to like it anymore otherwise it means I support paedophilia or something. Gang of Youths I feel very indifferent towards, maybe I'll give them another go tho

RadicalEd
July 5th 2018


9393 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I dunno this is a bit underwhelming for me. I guess I liked the ambition of Plastic Beach. This could almost be a (decent) Damon Albarn solo LP.



Way better than humazzzzzzzzzzzzzzz tho.



Gyromania
July 5th 2018


25913 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

So wrong ugh fuck I hate people

RadicalEd
July 5th 2018


9393 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Dude, humaz is such a non-Album, random collection of weird, failed experiments... ilu tho.

Toondude10
July 5th 2018


13371 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

very much enjoyed this, even if it gets a bit stales towards the second half.



I also actually really enjoyed 'Hollywood' tbh

Digging: Time, The Valuator - How Fleeting, How Fragile

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
July 5th 2018


4637 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

Great review! You made me really curious now to hear the album

Digging: The Ocean - Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic

zoso33
July 5th 2018


451 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

spot on

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
July 5th 2018


23923 Comments


very convincing review honestly...good stuff mate might actually jam this

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
July 5th 2018


40725 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

ty lads



I still maintain Humanz would have been viewed as a great comeback album had they not fucked the tracklist up so bad, it felt more like a mixtape. take an hour of the actual full songs and rework that and it's a great jam

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 5th 2018


28370 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Agreed. I cut Humanz down to about 75% of its original run time and re-ordered the tracklist, and it's quite good.

rodrigo90
July 5th 2018


4893 Comments


Can Damon stop releasing gorillaz albums and start focusing on blur?, I loved their first 2 albums, but I grew annoyed of his obsession with gorillaz.



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