The new Gorillaz album: What to expect and everything we know so far
'The Now Now' features just three collaborators, but they're all huge names as one would expect: George Benson (Humility), Jamie Principle, and Snoop Dogg.
Gorillaz fans are well aware of their deliberate pace. A gap of three-to-four years between a studio album is no big deal, and in the meantime, we can always expect a few nuggets to keep us engaged, like short videos and interactive multimedia stories courtesy of illustrator Jamie Hewlett, who along with ex-Blur frontman Damon Albarn is basically the brains behind the most successful virtual band of all time. But it looks like this time around, the wait between albums is going to be very short indeed.
2017 saw Gorillaz release their highly divisive album 'Humanz'. The sprawling 19 track effort saw a string of A-list collaboration, including De La Soul, DRAM, Anthony Hamilton, Pusha-T, Mavis Staples, Kelela, Vince Staples and more. Somewhere in the middle of all the collaborations, the album might have lost a personal touch. But for fans both disappointed and otherwise, there's good news because the band has confirmed that it is indeed coming back with a new album called the 'Now Now'. Here's everything you need to know about it.
What's the new Gorillaz album called?
The first hint came in the form of posters that popped up at All Points East festival in London. They led fans to a website thenownow.tv which featured a very short teaser trailer. Observant fans also noticed that there was a silhouette of Gorillaz member 2-D in the trailer.
Now, as per the Twitter account of the band as well as press releases, it is confirmed that the new album is officially titled 'The Now Now'.
When is the album dropping?
'The Now Now' is slated for a June 29 release via Warner Bros./Parlophone.
What singles have released so far?
The album was previewed with two brand new singles on May 30. The first is called 'Humility', featuring legendary jazz guitarist/songwriter George Benson and came with its own breezy music video that featured a hilarious cameo from Jack Black. It even featured an appearance from Gangreen Gang member/Powerpuff Girls villain Ace and one particular member was missing from the video, but more on that later.
The second single is called 'Lake Zurich', a four-minute-plus record that thrives off its sleek, electro-tinged, pop-soul sound. Stripped bare and mostly instrumental with a few sparse vocal samples thrown in, it's a groove-driven track that you can nod along to.
On June 7, Gorillaz previewed the third single 'Sorcererz'. The synth-lined, uber-groovy track is another aural feast with a slightly more dissociative, psychedelic tinge to it, befitting the title of the song. Check out the song below, complete with its very own hypnotic equalizer!
Who are the collaborators on the new album?
Unlike the heavily collaborative 'Humanz' from last year, 'The Now Now' features just three collaborators, but they're all huge names as one would expect: George Benson (Humility), Jamie Principle, and Snoop Dogg, who performed a song called 'Hollywood' with Albarn earlier this year.
Albarn also revealed that the album was produced by Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ford, who most recently worked with Arctic Monkeys on Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino and Remi Kabaka.
Is the full tracklist out?
Yes the full tracklist for the album is out. There are 11 tracks on the album. They are as follows:
01 Humility [ft. George Benson]
03 Hollywood [ft. Snoop Dogg and Jamie Principle]
07 Lake Zurich
08 Magic City
09 Fire Flies
10 One Percent
11 Souk Eye
What can we expect from the album?
Albarn has previously said that this is a spontaneous record. “I really like the idea of making new music and playing it live almost simultaneously,” he said. He noted that it would be a surprise record like The Fall but we shouldn’t expect something sonically like that. “A more complete record,” is what Albarn has described it as.
Also in a press release, Albarn called it a "summer album" and judging by the singles released so far, the funk is strong with this one!
As seen earlier in the article, there's a new twist to the fictional universe of the Gorillaz as well, which as we know is explored through music videos, interviews, and other short cartoons. Curiously missing from the new material is bassist Murdoc Niccals.
As I gathered from an "interview" of the band by Noisey, during the Strobelite music video shoot, Murdoc met a man at the bar, who turned out to be El Mierda, a shadow demon and kingpin of a crime dynasty. Murdoc thought the man wanted a selfie but since El Mierda reminded him of his Geography teacher they took it anyway and Murdoc sent it to his school WhatsApp thread. El Mierda later had Murdoc framed for smuggling, sending him to the HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs prison.
The band, meanwhile, seems to be doing just fine without Murdoc and in a press release, revealed that for their new album as well as tour dates in the near future, replacing Murdoc would be Ace from The Gangreen Gang. Murdoc meanwhile, admitted in the interview that he misses the band "like he misses the clap."
On Monday (June 4) Murdoc's Twitter account became active once again, sending out a link which detailed instructions to contact Murdoc through Skype, Facebook, Kik and Amazon Alexa. Somehow Murdoc is managing all this while in prison! It's surely one of the better gimmicks the band has pulled off and it looks like the virtual band is gearing up its act for the virtual age. I decided to play my part in trying to free Murdoc from jail and followed the Skype link to chat with Murdoc.
I gained a lot of valuable information through this. Apparently, Murdoc has come under the scanner of 'The Soap Sisters' and he doesn't like the way they look at him. I also learnt that Noodle had frozen Murdoc's bank account and that he had to fight the toughest guy in prison - Big Balls McGuinness - so he can earn respect in prison and cash it in to somehow escape.
Fans interacting with Murdoc can hack into Wormwood Scrub's PA system and send a message over the loudspeaker to McGuiness' cronies so Murdoc can get some alone time with him for a showdown! Try it here.
Meanwhile, over the weekend, Gorillaz took the stage for their first live performance since announcing the album. During the gig, apart from the live debut of the already released singles 'Humility,' 'Sorcererz' and 'Lake Zurich', and the Snoop Dogg and Jamie Principle-featuring 'Hollywood', Albarn debuted three other new songs: The anthemic 'Tranz', which came with a choir of gospel singers for backing vocals; the moody, contemplative funk-filled slow burner 'Magic City' and the gradually building dance-friendly 'Souk Eye'.
From the three released singles and the four new songs debuted at the gig, it looks like we can expect a much more linear, focused album when compared to 'Humanz'. Definitely more personal and shooting straight from the heart, the album leans heavily on synths and bass-heavy grooves (no offense Murdoc). So expect a well rounded breezy summer album. Also, expect a lot more multimedia content that furthers the fictional universe on the band. I for one am playing my part in busting Murdoc out.