Gorillaz- Demon Days

May 4th, 2005

Demon Days features more ‘celebs’ than a Saturday night on ITV. Unlike that cheap trash, the Gorillaz superb second offering will stand the test of time. When Jade Goody is picking up her benefit cheques, Damon Albarn and his fellow visionaries will be celebrated alongside the likes Hendrix and Bowie.

Since the coming of CD, our ability to skip the increasingly prevalent ‘filler’ tracks that pollute albums has created a worrying trend. Artists no longer strive to create start-to-finish masterpieces in the What’s Going On mould. Instead, we are given a few stonkers that are invariably let down by twice as many stinkers.

Thankfully, the one genre to avoid this cycle of decline has been hip hop. The refusal to abandon vinyl has meant that the temptation to produce skip and ditch crud has been limited to commercial artists. Underground headz have been blessed with opus after opus as a result.

Until now, Andre 3000’s Love Below has been the only great album to harness the very best elements of hip hop whilst appealing to a wider audience. That’s about to change.

Demon Days sees Dan the Automator hand over most of the production duties to Dangermouse. If you thought his ability constituted a grey area before, he proves his black and white brilliance here. Captivating electronic beats are juxtaposed with strings and piano in a creative maelstrom. A children’s choir is even enlisted to back Albarn on Dirty Harry, a track with a beat evocative of Grandmaster’s The Message, tellingly, it doesn’t suffer for the comparison.

Albarn is immense throughout, keeping pace with Dangermouse is some feat but he manages it by finding a range that will surprise even the most ardent Blur fans. The choice of MC’s is indicative of the unbelievably good taste on show here. De La Soul, MF Doom and Roots Manuva put the icing on an already delicious cake. For the ITV viewers out there, the celebrities featured include Dennis Hopper and Shaun Ryder. Ryder has to be considered a celeb here rather than musician since his input is largely limited to a repetitious ‘Coming up’ on DARE. Another great tune nonetheless. In fact, the celebrated single Feel Good Inc is among the lesser lights, simply because so many others shine so bright.

Just when we have accustomed ourselves to the heady, intoxicating cocktail of sonic joy, the penultimate track; Don’t Get Los in Heaven respectfully nods to the great Brian Wilson’s Beach Boys sound before merging into a fantastic reggae infused gospel finale.

If you’re a ‘party animal’, this is an album you can get down and dirty to. If you’re an MP3ist, this is one album you will not be skipping through. If you’re narrow- minded, this is an album to broaden your horizons. If you’re visiting from Mars, this is the exception rather than the rule. Quite simply, this is everything to everybody.