With the release of their first new song in nearly six years, Gorillaz still holds no punches when it comes to pushing their political agenda. With Donald Trump’s recent inauguration, Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett could not have timed this release any better.
“Hallelujah Money” featuring English artist Benjamin Clementine and its accompanying music video offer a sort of nightmarish feel to the policies President Trump has proposed. With Clementine stepping into a gold plated elevator at what seems to be Trump Tower, the target is quickly set.
Albarn’s first lyrics on this track, “When the morning comes, we are still human. How will we know? How will we dream? How will we love?” not only leaves an eerie taste in our mouths but reminds us of some of Gorillaz’s past material.
Gorillaz prefaced this music video with a tweet saying “Dark time – u need someone to look up to… Here’s a lightning bolt of truth in a black night. Now piss on! New stuff won’t write itself.” Certainly another allusion to Trump’s inauguration, but it also gives us faith in the new album scheduled to come out this year. Therefore, in this toxic political climate, I would like to take time to reflect on what I believe to be one of the most impactful albums ever made.
The second studio album from Albarn and Hewlett’s “side project” Gorillaz, can be, and should be, interpreted as much more than just a funky meld of a myriad of musical genres. Although released back in 2005, this album will never stop being relevant to all audiences.
With its underlying themes of consumer culture, environmental concerns, escapism, and facing one’s own demons, this album speaks to a fictional, post-apocalyptic world that parallels our own after the events of September 11, 2001.
The timing of the “Demon Days” release is an aspect that cannot be overlooked. The build up was everything, and the impact it made at the time was nothing short of extraordinary. Only four years after the bombing of the World Trade Center, Gorillaz wasted no time in beginning the journey through the eternal darkness that is “Demon Days” with “Last Living Souls.”
One of the most impactful songs on the album, “Last Living Souls” poses the question is our generation the last to know the significance of love and compassion. Reflecting back on the influx of terrorist events, it forces listeners to consider recent events on a level that they likely never wanted to.
As both our current political climate, and our world are heating up, the fourth track of the album, “O Green World,” is particularly relevant. As a distraught 2-D is pleading with Mother Earth herself not to desert mankind despite our destruction and arrogance, the ominous question is posed- do we even deserve her?
On the surface, the massive hit “Feel Good Inc.” is a funky jam of new-wave psychedelia and alternative hip-hop, but delving deeper it can be more accurately depicted as a ballad of how we are being corrupted by mainstream media and our “leaders.” A theme that could be argued to be more relevant now, than it was back in 2005.
There are many incredible features on this album, but none more notable than that of MF Doom’s on the hip-hop gem “November Has Come.” With its “survival of the fittest” theming, Doom perfectly shows that it “don't matter after if they's a thug or a dapper” the world is looking to take everyone down with it.
The spoken word piece “Fire Coming Out of the Monkey’s Head” alludes to the American people living out their lives in harmony while destruction and horror takes over the rest of the world. The “happy folk” of the USA are depicted as ignorant to their surroundings, and oblivious as to how they cannot use this ignorance to escape from the reality of evil looming before them.
And the final song that needs to be discussed is the relieving title track “Demon Days.” With the help of some beachy vibes and the London Community Gospel Choir, listeners can feel themselves emerging from the eternal darkness that was “Demon Days” as the track fades out.
This is only a small handful of the songs on “Demon Days” and I have barely scratched the surface of the many layers of this album. However, I wrote this to encourage those who have not been exposed to Gorillaz to check them out, and consider every lyric that is so subtly yet eloquently delivered. Also to remind long-time Gorillaz fans of what I believe to be the most important album the group has ever released, and how it is even more relevant now than it was over a decade ago.