Gorillaz were due to release a brand new studio album this year, but it would seem now that fans have a wait on their hands.
According to Jamie Hewlett, the chief animator and visual mastermind behind Gorillaz, via a fan on Instagram, new material won’t be due until 2017 after Hewlett’s original statement proclaiming 2016 to be “Gorillaz all year”. A Gorillaz fan who recently encountered Hewlett wrote that half of the Gorillaz duo said: “new GORILLAZ, is really fuckin special, can’t be rushed”. They added: “2017, yo. Fuck. So, guys, that Gorilla Fund, we got time. Go shop, take vacation, that shit aint happening this year. BUT its gonna be all that and more”.
Well, no new Gorillaz this year it seems. But what can we expect from Gorillaz’s next album? Other than a piece of music that Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett seem eager to perfect and take their time with, that is. Those who are familiar with Gorillaz and their music will know that the pair have a habit of dynamically changing their sound between albums.
Their self-titled 2001 album served as an explosive introduction for the band to the world of popular music. It also represented the virtual band’s original intent as what some considered an experimentation of various styles of music, and what others considered merely a piss-take of popular culture: a ridiculous cartoon band. The album undoubtedly demonstrated a variety of styles of music through its track list, ranging from rock to hip hop, trip hop and more, and although it might be more well-known for its more mainstream songs, it is better characterised by its lesser-known and more intriguing experimental ones. Overall, this is possibly one of the most diverse and experimental albums of the 21st century so far.
Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett realised they were onto something big after half-heartedly making critically acclaimed music out of a project that was more intended as a big practical joke rather than a best-selling ‘band’.
In 2005, the ground-breaking album Demon Days was released by Gorillaz, debuting at number one in the UK charts. It possessed a higher degree of musical quality than the previous album and was undoubtedly more popular. However, like their debut, Demon Days boasted a variety of different styles of music through its track list, such as rock, hip hop, trip hop, reggae and even disco. Demon Days is simply a modern masterpiece and one of the best albums of the 2000s as a whole.
After being inactive for five years after Demon Days, Gorillaz would take its most pop-orientated turn yet, with their third album (or phase three): 2010’s Plastic Beach. Although still producing at-the-time popular Gorillaz songs such as ‘On Melancholy Hill’, ‘Stylo’ and ‘Empire Ants’, their third album inevitably failed to live up to the critical success of the previous two. Plastic Beach showed Gorillaz in its most electronic form in terms of sound to date and featured a long list of collaborators such as Little Dragon, Lou Reed, Snoop Dogg and others.
Plastic Beach was much more pop, upbeat and light-hearted in contrast to the previous two albums which possessed more of a darker edge around them. This light tone, somewhat-silly and electronic-sound means listening to this album at times can feel more like listening to an album from the 1980s rather than the 2010s.
So taking into consideration that the pair have a reputation for radically changing their sound every album, it is pretty hard to make a concrete expectation of what we can expect from their upcoming fourth studio album. Our best guess is that the rock-rap fusion that Gorillaz display across all their albums will surely be maintained. It’s likely that they’ll keep an electronic sound in their new album, when considering Plastic Beach and the current popularity of electronic music, with Albarn describing the new album as ‘very upbeat, humorous and positive’.
ALbarn also suggested that it would also feature many collaborators. If anything, the new Gorillaz album sounds like it could be ‘Plastic Beach Part Two’. An electronic sound seems certain; with trip hop pioneers Massive Attack and electronic producer Jean Michel Jarre being pictured in the studio with Albarn. Hip hop artist Vic Mensa has also been caught on Instagram, working in the studio on new Gorillaz material with Albarn.
However, with the release of this album now being pushed back to 2017 instead of this year, fans of the iconic band are left only to speculate at this time.
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