Experimental, artistic, unique; all adjectives applicable to animated English troupe Gorillaz, admired for their often seamless integration of creative imagery with interesting musical ventures.
Leading directly to the upcoming release of a new album, 2017 release Hallelujah Money has created a sort of rift between audiences. Though the practice is not uncommon for band's creator Damon Albarn, many find it's political focus and unusual musical stylings either off-putting, or at the very least, unimpressive.
Though perceived as a forerunner to the certain reveal of further tracks, Money is immediately striking in its odd beat patterns and use of vocals, seemingly directly avoiding any traces of Gorillaz' previous Pop appeal. Trip-hop heavy and upfrontly poetic, there is an odd clash between the strong topical intent driving the lyricism and the spacy, somewhat dub influenced instrumental.
Benjamin Clementine leads the dark, drippy lullaby with a melodramatic flavour, paralleling the booming voices of past influential peoples. His plain, non-cryptic metaphors and sparkling foretellings paint the image of a man proudly reciting his long mulled-over words in the face of a pliable society. Impeccable in his grasp on persuasion, yet somehow ingenuous in his choice of such buzzwords.
This falsity is solidified as we hear him sing the praise of a foreign influence; money. It is what fuels his pride, what pushes him to pander to such low levels. His inflection is now far more honest, perhaps parallelling the hymns recited religiously in the Church. A soulful praise of a higher entity, yet one for a creature implicitly capable of corruption and evil.
Among this, an angelic, otherworldly echo parades about the politician's ongoing pledges, drawing a hypothetic fear from these carefully crafted words. Lead vocalist Albarn has shrouded himself in the guise of two characters; that of cartoon frontman 2-D, and that of an omnipresent being able to analyze the true intent behind Benjamin's covenants.
He asks the world a subconscious series of questions, juxtapositioning calm delivery with menacing implication, If the world has joined hands with a demented creature intent on serving a palpable supreme being, how long is it truly until our further human emotions and natural attributes are torn from us? Will we, likewise, sacrifice morality in the name of benefit? Though we may be human, will we remain the same?
These questions seem to be ignored; 2-D's doomsaying predictions quelled in the name of acceptance. As this chorus of fear comes to a close, Clementine's demonic praise of the material is converted from a singular, uncomfortable chant, to an anthem howling proudly among a cacophony of distortion. Minds being melded, modern existence seemingly mashed upon itself upon this new praise of what was once seen as evil; convincing word proving mightier than thought.
The choice of a unpowerful, rather soothing vocals and music seems to drown the highly enigmatic lyrics beneath a sea of uninterest. Rather than a strike, Gorillaz has offered what many describe as a yawn; one of suppressed truths, one of revealed consciousness. Yet, this is a consciousness impacted by numbness - whether caused by persuasion, or sheer terror. One only intended as a small dip into a very difficult, rough series of image-heavy thoughts; yet, one that may stand firmly as one of the groups' strongest songs.