The first Gorillaz album had its moments but I don’t think anybody quite realised what sort of a musical juggernaut was heading our way with its follow up, ‘Demon Days’. Although the guest performers were stacked high, it felt very much like a Damon Albarn solo record, with the emphasis on crowd-pleasing but refreshingly complex pop music.
Whether you’re ensnared by the gorgeous vocal on ‘Every Planet We Reach Is Dead’ or the more than a little rough around the edges refrains from Shaun Ryder on ‘DARE’, it’s hard to listen to this album and not sit back and simply marvel at what an accomplished record it is. ‘Feel Good Inc’, as a signal of the return of Gorillaz, presented an act that was a not inconsiderable leap along from the 2001 incarnation which had offered up the rather playful ‘19-2000’. This was pop with balls and Albarn was ready to take over the world.
It’s one of those albums I always think I should play more. Because I end up grouping it as part of Damon’s wider discography, there are often other albums of his I will reach for ahead of it and so it essentially suffers due to the quality of its nearest relations. Listening to it again as I write this, it is, predictably enough, wowing me at every turn and I’m left wondering why it is that ‘Demon Days’ tends to get a number of reverential listens every year but doesn’t get particularly regular plays.
Oddly, what is probably my favourite Gorillaz song of all time doesn’t appear on either of the studio albums released to date. It cropped up, in slightly rejigged form on ‘D Sides’, but originally appeared on the War Child album, ‘Help!’. ‘Hong Kong’ truly is a solo Albarn outing and it is utterly, utterly beguiling and remains one of my absolute favourite songs. You’ll forgive me for crow-barring this in at the end of this piece, but you really should hear it if you never previously have. Try here.