‘Humanz’ stands as a scattered yet solid addition to the Gorillaz catalog


The virtual band Gorillaz released “Humanz,” their first project in five years, on April 28. The album is filled to the brim with features from artists such as De La Soul. Vince Staples, Benjamin Clementine, D.R.A.M., Danny Brown, Popcaan, Peven Everett, Mavis Staples, Pusha T, and many others.

This was an extremely anticipated album, seeing as fans of Blur frontman Damon Albarn’s virtual quartet haven’t received a full length project from the band since the Christmas of 2010 with “The Fall.” Not only that, but before the album was even released, fans were bombarded with singles to tease the release of the project since before the project was even announced, starting with the song “Hallelujah Money.” So with all this hype building up around the return of 2-D, Murdoc, Noodles, and Russel, does the final product live up to expectations? The answer is both yes and no.

To start off, the individual songs on the album are absolutely stunning. If you were to play every one of the 14 songs (not including the intro and interludes) on this album to a random person, they would at least like a handful of them, no matter what their musical tastes are. This is because the tracks on the album vary tremendously from one another, giving this album a very chaotic and eclectic feel. Whether it be in the energy of “Ascension,” “Strobelite,” “Andromeda,” or “We Got the Power,” the chill factor of “Submission,” “Busted and Blue,” and “Let Me Out,” or the pure chaos of “Charger,” “Carnival,” and “Hallelujah Money,” it’s hard to find a song not to like. My personal favorites were “Ascension,” “Charger,” “Andromeda,” “Let Me Out,” and “Hallelujah Money,” but if you happen to not like one of these songs, there’s bound to be at least three others on the album that you will like.

The lyrical content of the album is also very striking. Many of the songs carry massive political undertones, like with Vince Staple’s verses in “Ascension.” This isn’t surprising, as the album was recorded during the 2016 election season. But it’s with those same lyrics about the pessimistic view of the political landscape of today mixed with that eclectic sound that makes this album so unique. It transforms is from just another Gorillaz album to what is truly the playlist for the metaphorical end of the world we live in today.

However, despite all this, there are a few glaring issues at hand. First off, while the eclecticity makes the album feel very chaotic, which does help with the message the lyrics promote, it also makes the whole project feel scattered. Nothing really keeps everything grounded and interconnected, like a good album should. It instead ends up sounding more like a singles collection rather than an actual album.

The biggest problem, however, is that even though the album is very diverse in sound, it often ends up feeling very samey. This is because many of the songs use a very similar structure, with seemingly copy-pasted drum and bass sounds, the aforementioned similar lyrical themes, and a hook that is delivered in nearly exactly the same way by Albarn. No matter how eclectic an album is, if all the songs are built exactly the same way, then it just morphs into a boring slog.

To wrap things up, “Humanz” shows so much potential with its plethora of tracks, but nothing really brings it all together. Each song can stand on its own with any of the best of the Gorillaz discography, but it falls apart when the pieces of the album come together. It somehow has a beautiful chaos throughout, yet in the end, the chaos becomes repetitive. Despite being more like a scattered collection of similar singles, the strength of each of those tracks keeps this archipelago of beautiful islands from drifting apart. “Humanz” gets 3.5 out of 5 stars.