Gorillaz transport listeners to ‘Cracker Island’ on sleek new album

It is wild to think that the planet’s most popular cartoon pop group, the Gorillaz, has been at it for 25 years now, continuing to deliver arena-sized anthems that discard any perceived notions of boundaries for genres.  With the arrival of the group’s eighth studio album, Cracker Island, the illustrated four-piece of 2-D, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle, and Russel Hobbs has delivered one of their most direct, and accessible releases in two decades.

For the creative masterminds behind the project, musician Damon Albarn and visual artist Jamie Hewlett, the longtime collaborators seemed to thoroughly enjoy the build-up to the release, engaging fans with a series of social media shorts from the band members, a vodka partnership, and a massive immersive performance of the single Skinny Ape taking place in New York’s Times Square and London’s Piccadilly Circus back in December.  All this while wrapping up a massive world tour that ran through to the end of October, winding up Miami, FL, as the group was able to road test album singles, Cracker Island, and New Gold alongside their massive back catalog.

With the arrival of Cracker Island, the group has delivered what may be its most stream-lined album ever, abstaining from the somewhat overwhelming collections of recent albums Humanz, and Song Machine, Season One, the group keeps the new album to just 10 tracks.  While that is uncharacteristic for the seemingly endless musical ideas emanating from Damon Albarn, the album doesn’t lack depth or evolution, but rather utilizes the stylistic choices of each track and guest star to enhance the overall release.

Like most Gorillaz albums, Albarn is able to bring together some of the world’s biggest stars, in this case, Stevie Nicks, Bad Bunny, Beck, Tame Impala, and Thundercat, to bring this latest musical journey to life.  From the opening beat of the lead single, Cracker Island, featuring the funky stylings of Thundercat, the album navigates the story of a religious cult on the fictitious island, providing a look into the lives of the cartoon ensemble set to a soundtrack that is as memorable as anything in the group’s past releases.

Although the group may not have a global smash hit to match Feel Good Inc. or Clint Eastwood, the Gorillaz deliver an album full of music worthy of that high standard they set for themselves over 20 years ago.

Image Credit: Courtesy of Warner Music Group

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