Gorillaz delve into vocalist 2-D’s intimate reflection in The Now Now

Gorillaz | The Now Now | Parlophone / Warner Bros. Records

Release date: 29 June 2018

Written by Jenna Dreisenstock

An introspection in hotel rooms; unmade beds and twilight moonbeam – an insomniac in reflective melancholia – presented in bold enthusiasm, a driving dance in the closet of the mind. The intimacy of a I-spent-the-night-sitting-in-a-dark-corner journal poured into synth-pop and radio ballads, simple and straightforward reflection.

In an ever continuation of the saga of virtual band Gorillaz, their recently released sixth album The Now Now finds the rest of the band taking a backseat in their usual eclectic style; with a change in usual many collaborations, we see lead vocalist 2-D – otherwise known as producer and composer Damon Albarn – taking the lead with more synth-pop, straight-forward reflection; a more intimate creation from within an alienated 2-D, presenting in catchy hooks and layers of textural ambience.

Synth-pop driving sweetness as strobe light glitter: ‘Tranz’ opens with a bold bassline, an urge to move forward and an uptempo enthusiasm; zest in character as one readies for a night out in the neon glittering. A textural sphere of 80’s nostalgia strides endearingly in the textural timbres of the soundscape, percussive studded glamour curious amongst the swells of synths and the drenched distance of Albarn’s vocals. A climactic build in excited vibrancy builds a sweetened tempo to an overwhelm of layered timbre, glittering harmonies in synth-pop, percussive haze; coloured by a melody reminiscent of early pop songs from the 80’s as well as an enthusiastic companionship on experimental keys flowing with Albarn’s vocal lines and harmonies.

Elements of folk colour ‘Idaho’ as the track opens with a tender hand-pluck of acoustic strings, faintly backed by a loving synth timbres; gently presenting themselves as Albarn’s melancholic, reflective vocal line glides in lyrical poetic. An introspective build to an unexpected change in the overwhelm of heart-beat upbeat, yet calm tempo. Synths sparking star-bursts in character of the tracks emotional nostalgia, Albarn’s vocals growing clearer and harmonic, layered like the sadness of a choir. A feeling of longing accompanies the track as a whole, from the focus on Albarn’s personal reflections to the synth-pop sprouts of the chorus, and the twists and bends of timbres in textural dark and warmth.

Opening with a percussive beat reminiscent of trip-hop splendour, ‘Magic City’ sings in summer day breeze as the ice-cream sun sleeps hazy in Albarn’s vocals. Atmospheric delay and loop swings in harmonies, a distant charming Albarn in heat-blossom blaze with the presence of ‘doo-wop’ harmonies. Yearning in glitch and the indie highs of a sweeping guitar, the track progresses further into an experimental synth-pop cut; filled with warmth as the track colours the radio on a faraway road trip.

Tremolo waves gleam and tumble gently over a drenched bass, bubbling in turn with a percussive companionship. In ‘Fire Flies’ Albarn’s vocals are whimsically robotic, strangely intimate as the heavy bubble-pop drives the track into a layered melancholia; influences from genres reminiscent of a sad R&B love ballad, to it’s heavy dub bass and electronica experimentation. A declaration of personal traverse in Albarn’s vocal longing, as layers build in foundations and foundations of overwhelm. A darkness of hue in uptempo and intimacy.

With ‘Souk Eye’ opening in a similar folk-esque fashion of ‘Idaho’, simmers in a Summer-y melody, as acoustic picking graces the introduction of a driven electronic beat; percussive atmosphere in transit with the progressive bass, the track sweeps in a dreamlike gossamer pop-song, elements of unexpected avant-pop synths presenting themselves in texture. From a more relaxed tune to a heavier dance-influence, the track breathes in a faster pace and loving movement, a progression in IDM and Albarn’s introspection in the ever layering and textural sound-scape – elements of funk break through melodrama, animating the track in harmony with whimsical keys and the distant harmonies of Albarn’s vocals fading out.

The focus on 2-D’s thoughts and textural layering in pop-drenched uptempo tracks creates an unexpected tone: as opposed to the experimental eccentric nature of the band and original strong elements of collaborations, The Now Now stands out as a more intimate and easily accessible album, drenched with a kind of bedroom loneliness, dressed up in honeyed pop and a bittersweet enthusiasm.

Order The Now Now by Gorillaz

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