Reviews

Gorillaz “Cracker Island” Album Review

Cracker Island (Deluxe)

Gorillaz

  • Genre: Alternative
  • Date: 27 Feb, 2023
  • Content: explicit
  • Region: NGA
  • Track(s): 15
  • ℗ 2023 Parlophone Records Limited.

This is presumably the band’s Los Angeles record, inspired by a move to Silver Lake, and it features a few distinctly Californian guests, like Stevie Nicks, Thundercat, and the Pharcyde’s Bootie Brown. “Cracker Island” depends heavily on classic Gorillaz tropes: a handful of attention-grabbing elements, a touch of hip-hop, a sprinkle of dub, and plenty of Damon Albarn’s passionate melodies to bathe the record in hazy sunshine. To put it in another way, “Cracker Island” is a classic.

Album Cover Art

Gorillaz &Quot;Cracker Island&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, June 18, 2024

The band is represented by four cartooned characters portrayed as close friends that roll in a pack to have all sorts of crazy fun just like in the picture, though they also seem to have different personalities. In the artwork, they are hanging out at a creepy spot—an antique but questionable hut with a side stairway and overlooking trees—that seems to be like a second home with how relaxed and in their natural elements they are. Freedom certainly hits different on Cracker Island.

Tracks and Features

The album opens with the title track, which features Thundercat as a guest collaborator. Buzzing synths contrast with a grooving funky bass line. The fact that each Gorillaz album has a narrative attached to it is part of what makes listening to their music so enjoyable. The story of this particular Gorillaz era is that they moved to Hollywood and founded their own cult, which they call the Last Cult; however, their neighbors are another cult, the Forever Cult, which plays a role in the narrative. Hence, when you hear Thundercat singing “forever cult” constantly, simply know that it plays into it; it’s a perfect track to introduce the album.

On the following track, “Oil,” Stevie Nicks’ distinctive voice is first heard in a beautiful way, flying about the track like an albatross and landing on some of her refrains. The vocals of longtime Gorillaz colleague Adeleye Omotayo—a member of The Humanz Choir created for the band’s 2017 album Humanz—are featured in “Silent Running” in a whirling manner. This song is incredibly sad yet also sounds rather peppy, plus it is catchy as heck. This song is heavily influenced by 80s synth wave, and you could almost take it as being somewhat melancholy about social media’s effects—something that particularly resonates with those of us who grew up in a world without it. This song is phenomenal and would still retain its appeal on the 100th listen.

The album gets a bouncing, reggaeton edge from Puerto Rican musician Bad Bunny, who also contributes what might be the first Gorillaz track in that genre. Furthermore, “Tormenta,” written first for this album and originally meant for a separate project, is everything but a generic, universal pop song, combining Bad Bunny’s explosive Spanish-language lyrics with the kind of melancholy start and outro that Gorillaz execute so expertly.

The album’s lone double track, “New Gold,” which was also meant for another release, shows another side to Gorillaz’s multifaceted skills and blends hip-hop and electronic music in a dizzying way. In the background, Bootie Brown’s voice comes with an existential lament before Tame Impala provides his customary shimmering production and go-to Wurlitzer. On Cracker Island, “Tarantula” and “Skinny Ape” are the songs to listen to in a certain mood, even though the latter song flies into a head-rush of percussion halfway through.

Albern duets with Beck, another well-known artist, on the album’s concluding piece, “Possession Island,” which is by far the most serene. “We’re all in this together ’till the end,” is the song’s gently whispered closing phrase, and it serves as a suitable ode to the album.

Tracklist

NO TITLE TIME
1 Cracker Island (feat. Thundercat) 3:33
2 Oil (feat. Stevie Nicks) 3:50
3 The Tired Influencer 3:31
4 Silent Running (feat. Adeleye Omotayo) 4:26
5 New Gold (feat. Tame Impala and Bootie Brown) 3:35
6 Baby Queen 3:40
7 Tarantula 3:31
8 Tormenta (feat. Bad Bunny) 3:13
9 Skinny Ape 4:41
10 Possession Island (feat. Beck) 3:26
11 Captain Chicken (feat. Del The Funky Homosapien) 1:51
12 Controllah (feat. MC Bin Laden) 2:30
13 Crocadillaz (feat. De La Soul and Dawn Penn) 2:33
14 Silent Running (feat. Adeleye Omotayo) [2D Piano Version] 4:23
15 New Gold (feat. Tame Impala and Bootie Brown) [Dom Dolla Remix] 4:34

Album Theme

The album is a brilliant and vulnerable stream of thoughts intercepted by shouts and melodies.

Production Credits

Producers on the album include Gorillaz, Greg Kurstin, Kevin Parker, Remi Kabaka Jr. & Tainy.

Stream

Back to top button