Gorillaz is a turbo-boosted four-piece in overdrive, a band with their collective foot slammed squarely to the floor of the Gorillaz mobile. Their race-tuned sound is an F1 Kong with a quartet of Mighty Joe Young’s at the wheel. Lock up your sons, daughters and leave a light on in the hallway just to be on the safe side, they’ve escaped from the zoo and are out to get what’s due. Laugh now but the future belongs to them.
“As soon as they played ‘Punk’, I knew I’d seen the future of music.” So says Whiffy Smiffy, EMI A&R ace, who witnessed Gorillaz’ first-ever gig at the Camden Brownhouse in late 1998. There was a riot, natch: Whiffy, with inimitable style, let off a few rounds from his pump-action sawn-off, forced his way through the crowds and grabbed those all-important signatures. He set Murdoc, 2D, Russel, and Noodle to task: ten months and close to thirty tracks later, they delivered their dark pop classic. Kinky, wild, seductive with far-flung influences ranging from Jamaican Dub to New-York Hip-Hop, from Cuban love songs to South London scum-punk, the Gorillaz first long-player was an eye-ear-and-mind opener and a genuine milestone along rock’s long highway. Gorillaz melds their diverse backgrounds and far-flung influences, their various styles and impressive talent to make a subversive, modern, yet utterly accessible sound. This is the record you’ll put on to get up, get down, get off and get it on with the lover of your dreams. A shoo-in for the Mercury Prize was it not for the fact that half of Gorillaz are Johnny Foreigners. Totally hot. Totally cool.
Gorillaz began as something of a lark for Damon Albarn, a way for the singer/songwriter to explore music his Brit-pop band Blur otherwise couldn’t make, but the “virtual band” he conceived with artist Jamie Hewlett in the twilight years of the 20th century turned into his main gig in the new millennium.