On Cracker Island it was born, to the collective of the dawn
Long Time No See, Brewers!
Thankfully, it's been a lot less time since we last saw Gorillaz, but that's not to say that their newest traditional studio album, Cracker Island, wasn't welcomed into our arms with the same enthusiasm as we greet each weekend.
Gorillaz burst onto the music scene as a virtual band in 2001. Created by Blur's Damon Albarn and The Prodigy's Jamie Hewlett they originally appeared with the human musicians obscured from view and only projected and animated members visible, before dropping the veil of secrecy and embracing their alter-egos whole-heartedly and touring with a live band fully visible.
Despite being a virtual band, they haven't been 'safe' from their own controversies. Indeed when Murdoc Niccals was "in prison" in 2018, who should take their place on bass duties other than Ace of the The Gangreen Gang from The Powerpuff Girls fame. Now there's a sentence we never thought we'd write.
Now, the latest Gorillaz album
hasn't been a surprise, and indeed we've had 5 of the songs already released as singles before we got our mitts on the vinyl itself, but there's nothing quite like having the entire works together, written, mastered and compiled into the order that the band saw in their vision - and what a work it is.
Lead Single - Cracker Island
We begin with the lead single which was released back in June 2022: "Cracker Island" featuring Thundercat. The strongest-performing single for Gorillaz since their 2005 "Dare", it rocketed into the charts to herald Gorillaz return. It's an upbeat pop ditty with lyrics bemoaning the auto-tuned world of consumerism and the cult-like followings that can exist, despite being performed by possibly the most obviously manufactured band out there.
But don't let this apparent lack of self-awareness put you off in the slightest; as has been with the last few Gorillaz albums, the tracks and featured artists in Cracker Island continue with the quality we have all grown to know and love with Stevie Nicks, Tame Impala, Adeleye Omotayo and Beck amongst others, joining them on this record. How do you follow Elton John appearing on your last album? With this lot.
On the whole, the tracks seem to run a little shorter than you'd like - just as you're settling into the groove you're faced with another and this is reflected in the album's compact runtime of 38 minutes. "Oil" in particular could've made a longer feature with Stevie Nicks' legendary vocals warming through like goosebumps.
Highlights for us would be "Silent Running" with a synth breezing through reflecting the West-Coast influences of most of the supporting artists and Producer Greg Kurstin's Californian glow, and the final haunting track, "Possession Island" featuring everyone's favourite foppy-haired musical mogul Beck, returning for another appearance with Gorillaz in a track that was released as a single in September 2022.
Once you've digested it this album its a great showcase of Damon Albarn's strong vocals, willingness to diversify and collaborate with legendary artists of note which does not descend into a disjointed album of chaos - instead bringing us a summery Tequila Sunrise of an album, catapulting us into daydreaming about top-down cars and beaches until it ends in a dreamy ditty leaving you relaxed and ultimately waiting for the next Gorillaz album.
Released on the 24th February 2023, Cracker Island is available on Black Vinyl and Limited Edition Neon Purple Vinyl
- Cracker Island (featuring Thundercat)
- Oil (featuring Stevie Nicks)
- The Tired Influencer
- Silent Running (featuring Adeleye Omotayo)
- New Gold (featuring Tame Impala and Bootie Brown)
- Baby Queen
- Tormenta (featuring Bad Bunny)
- Skinny Ape
- Possession Island (featuring Beck)
If you enjoyed this Gorillaz - Cracker Island review, please do sign up for the newsletter for more musings, where we'll next be going back 40 years and looking at the classic album by Tears For Fears - The Hurting - from 1983
"Through the infinite pages, I scroll out
Searchin' for a new world
That waits on the sunrise"
- Silent Running