By Jenna Munswami
During their 25-year career, the Gorillaz, an English virtual band, released eight studio albums, along with numerous EPs and singles. Their latest album, “Cracker Island,” was released Feb. 24 with 10 songs. The deluxe version of the album followed three days later with an additional five tracks.
I, along with the band’s other 23 million monthly listeners on Spotify, were overjoyed. Sure, Gorillaz did release an album in 2020, but who doesn’t love something new? The British band has matured with new looks and a more modern sound. With weird lyrical combinations, electric sounds and some of the oddest artists as features, Cracker Island is 53 minutes and 21 seconds of greatness.
The first song of the album, titled “Cracker Island,” features artist Thundercat, and is simply a Gorillaz song to its core. By this, I mean that the lyrics seemingly make no sense and follow an iconic beat. The meaning of this song is quite on the nose, though. [With lyrics such as “On Cracker Island it was born/To the collective of a dawn/They were planting seeds at night/To grow a made-up paradise … They taught themselves to be occult/They didn’t know its many strategies.”] This cult was discovered by band member 2D, who ends up becoming a part of it. The song continues on about the cult and what they will do for 2D, as well as seemingly foreshadowing a new world to come. This world is then fleshed out through other songs and music videos.
“New Gold,” is the fifth song on the album and features popular artists Tame Impala and Bootie Brown. This song is reminiscent of older Gorillaz music, donning a pronounced drum beat and a rap verse. Even though the band’s sound has evolved into something more electric, the song’s rock roots are refreshing. The rap verse is, of course, an iconic part of their music as well and sets the band apart from others of their genre. Beneath the energetic music, the lyrics cover what can only be described as a dystopian world: “Yo, a desolate city where it hurts to smile/Ran into the Reverend since it’s been a while and Are we all losing our minds?/Because life got in the way/They will be here just in time/Your replacement is here to stay.” The lyrics portray a desolate society where people struggle to find meaning within it.
There is also an impending sense of doom within the song, as people know something bad is happening but do not know how to prevent it. This is symbolic in everyone’s life, and we all have our own coping mechanisms.
The eighth track, is “Tormenta,” featuring Bad Bunny, is the perfect song for summer, despite being released in February. The lyrics themselves are a lot more positive than others on “Cracker Island.” The song is all about love, and the beauty of it. Even if it is not romantic love, everyone has people in their life that they love whether that be friends or family.
Another important message in this song is to seize any opportunity that you may find. The song talks about love, but anyone can relate to that with their own experiences. Whether you can understand Spanish or not, the song is a pleasure to listen to, and one that gives hope to listeners.
The album also got quite a positive reception online. According to Google, 95% of listeners have thumbs-upped the album. Rolling Stone’s review called the album “Gorillaz’s most purely pleasurable LP yet.” The Guardian wrote that “Cracker Island” felt “musically unified” and that it “deals in subtlety and nuance.” For a band that has been performing for two decades, it is quite a compliment that its music has held up for this long.