So much more than just a rock star's novelty side project or thinly veiled solo album...
Ian Wade 2005
Gorillaz return with a blisteringly good album that happily skips from genre to genre and looks set to be one of the most rewarding albums you'll hear this year.
WhenGorillaz's debut album came out in 2002, buoyed by the huge success of the "Clint Eastwood" single, no one really knew what Albarn and co. were up to. We knew the band was supposedly made up of ten year old musical genius Noodle, Satan worshipping green toothed bassist Murdoc, cuddly brick sh*thouse drummer Russel and the blue-haired singer 2D "for the ladies", but it essentiallysounded like an Albarn solo album produced by then-collaborator Dan The Automator. Singles aside, the debut album sounded somewhat unfinished, with most tracks being no more than vague sketches.
Demon Days is a different, more widescreen kettle of fish altogether. Hooking up this time with Dangermouse, who produced the online bootlegGrey Album which spliced Jay-Z's Black and The Beatles' White albums together to create merry copyright hell, Albarn has accumulated a stellar supporting cast of star guests to broaden Gorillaz's musical horizon.
Tracks such as the basstastic current hit single "Feel Good Inc" featuring De La Soul and the free download "Dirty Harry", which seems to blend the menace of a children's choir over a Tom Tom Club-ish funk stand out. Shaun Ryder guests on the mighty "Dare", and sounds more alive than he has for years. But the album's highlight has to be the rumbling dub of "All Alone" which unites Roots Manuva with Martina Topley-Bird.
Other unlikely collaborators crop up throughout, with Ike Turner on "Every Planet We Reach Is Dead", Neneh Cherry sexily supporting "Kids With Guns" and Dennis Hopper narrating a tale about the happy folk on "Fire Coming Out Of A Monkey's Head".
A concise and enjoyable 50 minutes, Demon Days is so much more than just a rock star's novelty side project or thinly veiled solo album. It's a triumph for all concerned and should rightfully end the year as being one of its finest and most celebrated releases. Tremendous.