Gorillaz - Cracker Island artwork

Gorillaz – Cracker Island (Album Review)

Gorillaz - Cracker Island 2023

When Gorillaz first emerged onto the music scene around the start of the new millennium, many may have had the initial reaction of… what in the world is this! Valid, considering the project is that of a virtual band consisting of four fictional members – 2-D (vocals, keyboards), Murdoc Niccals (bass guitar), Noodle (guitar, keyboards, vocals) and Russel Hobbs (drums) – Gorillaz quickly gained a lot of attention. Not showing any faces of any of the musical artists behind the comic characters, it would be easy to write-off the project as a gimmick, but that simply was not the case…. because the music was oozing with substance. A mix of Alternative Rock, Hip Hop, and Electronic, Gorillaz would quickly dominate right away with their 2001 debut, 2005’s Demon Days, and beyond. Now over twenty years since first premiering, they still continue to entice listeners… and their latest album Cracker Island is no exception.

Released February 24, 2023 through Parlophone and Warner Records, the new album is their eighth overall and features a bundle of interesting collaborations. No stranger to mixing it up with other artists, a rainbow of guests have been featured on Gorillaz tracks since their start. In fact, they have seen some really amazing guests appear on their songs; from The Cure’s Robert Smith to Joy Division’s Peter Hook, but also everyone from Elton John to George Benson! A list that is even more extensive than the names mentioned, for Cracker Island they assemble another all-star cast of guests, which include Thundercat, Stevie Nicks, Bad Bunny, and Beck. All bringing something different to the table, what really stands out with Cracker Island is that each song by and large stands strongly on its own.

Consisting of ten songs, fifteen if you pick up the deluxe edition, it feels like it is a non-stop party all the way through. Anchored by cuts like the irresistible title-track, “Cracker Island,” and “New Gold,” some other absolute must listens include “Oil” (with Stevie Nicks), the dream-like “The Tired Influencer,” “Silent Running” (featuring Adeleye Omotayo), and “Tarantula.” Joining these include the more acoustic based and piano laden “Possession Island” with a guest spot from Beck.

All matters considered, Gorillaz has exceeded any expectations anyone may have initially had for them. Gorillaz, while quirky and odd, has proven to be an oasis of musical experimentation. With Damon Albarn (famously known as well as founder of Blur) still the key creative force behind the songwriting of Gorillaz, it seems like the project can do no wrong. Obviously not everyone’s cup of tea, those who may have discounted Gorillaz for one reason or another are urged to give them a closer listen… you may like what you find. This in mind, digging deeper into their discography would be recommended, but if you are looking to start on the surface, Cracker Island is a perfect place to land because it is pretty much Gorillaz at their essential best. That is why Cryptic Rock gives Cracker Island 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Gorillaz - Cracker Island album art
Gorillaz – Cracker Island / Parlophone / Warner Records (2023)

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