There’s no lack of ambition or experimentation, but Gorillaz don’t make anything substantial of it due to the lack of pace or consistency, and while sounding unique the music is only best applied to very specific atmospheres.
As the most up and down musical element of this work, the melody was rarely invigorating yet still had a strong and necessary presence. It was very important in dictating mood and familiarity for the music, since this album had lots of differing underlying structures within itself. Melody did a good enough job at being the recognizable feature that each song needed, but that was not because the lines themselves were interesting. They had enough, or perhaps too much, separation from everything else that the presentation was clear and understandable. What they lacked was any sense of strong musical inspiration or pace that could add intrigue to the music. The song “Momentz” was perhaps the most disappointing melodically, given that it had a fun and unique underlying structure. The few intermittent rap sections, like in the song “Submission”, showed more life and uniqueness within the melody, even if the purpose of those sections overall were a bit questionable when looking at the entire work. While the melodies were mostly chill and oddly memorable, their essence was quite lethargic and rather ugly. One can certainly put the essence aside and force themselves to accept it and continue to find comfort in this music, but a closer look at this work reveals lots of holes in the melody that could have made a much more enjoyable experience had they been filled.
It had its moments of cool stagnation and animated two-chord structures, but harmony ended up being the weakest link of the work due to sheer inconsistency and complacency. It may not sound complacent on the surface, and the work overall is far from being so, but musically the harmony settled way too often on seemingly lazy and random decisions about movement and added chord tones. When everything else and chill and well composed, the harmony was too chill and unable to keep up creatively. The song “The Apprentice” is a perfect example, because everything else surrounding the plain and complacent harmony is actually very neat. While stagnation and slow rhythm worked well within the context of “Charger”, since it provided strong rhythm and great feel, it did not work so well in songs like “Sex Murder Party”, where it basically sat there if nothing else was helping it along. Again, this was an inconsistent work. Some will wish to call it diverse instead of inconsistent, and I do see the merit in that. But even within songs, harmonic quality wavered greatly despite using similar tactics, and the result was a little underwhelming. Being too chill and too diverse isn’t the end of the world, though. There was enough ingenuity here to make the music work on such a large scale.
Although not as impactful, the theme of inconsistency surprisingly runs through the timbre as well. There wasn’t one solid instrumental decision that stayed successful throughout the hour-long work. While overall the timbre kept a good sense of composure that would work well in specific atmospheres, it mostly lacked any sort of enthusiasm. “Hallelujah Money” is a good example of the rather subdued and experimental sound that can only accompany certain moods. I certainly appreciated the huge amount of ambition and uniqueness within the sound, but it was only good enough for a one-time listen from me. Layers were very disjointed from song to song, only finding cohesion in about 1/3 of the songs, but cohesion was obviously not their goal in the first place. Their goals for their sound were much larger and more special, but that may have been their ultimate downfall. Too many moving parts in the texture without enough purpose or resolution resulted in a rather wish-washy and long hour of music. It works to a degree in a very interesting way, but there were no substantial successes.
Gorillaz, as a concept, is a pretty big deal for the music world. Their existence alone can serve as inspiration to any multimedia artist who wants to combine their talents and interests. Overall, Gorillaz is a successful project that has pushed boundaries very well and has found a great crowd. However, this latest album is an example of concept and imagination overshadowing musical value. Their ambition and experimentation should be well received, and they have found a sect of modern listeners that crave it over anything, but it doesn’t stand on its feet too well in comparison with similar experiments. Due to the surprising timing and substantial interest it gives off on the surface, this album has a strong amount of influential power today. As for the future? I don’t see it lasting very well. The score for influence makes this album good for now, but know that it will probably lose that rank over time.
Final Score: 115/180