A come­back for all sea­sons

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC REVIEWS -

Many car­toons run for a very long time, but only one car­toon band has such a long-term plot. Go­ril­laz, whose early shtick was cooked up by Da­mon Al­barn and Jamie Hewlett back in the late 1990s, and who with this re­lease are on their fifth al­bum, now have a heavy­weight cast of past and present col­lab­o­ra­tors to shout about.

Hu­manz is a re­mark­able trib­ute to Al­barn’s abil­ity to coax peo­ple to add a few lines to the big­ger can­vas. Grace Jones, Noel Gal­lagher, Vince Sta­ples, De La Soul, D.R.A.M., Rag’n’Bone Man, Pusha T, Kelela, Danny Brown, Pop­caan, Jehnny Beth, Mavis Sta­ples and more have an­swered the call on this oc­ca­sion. (In­deed, the pres­ence of so many US hip-hop names is tes­ta­ment to their genre’s fond­ness for “fea­tur­ing” cred­its.)

Their voices con­trib­ute to an al­bum that prob­a­bly leans least to­wards main­stream pop of any Go­ril­laz re­lease. Al­barn’s fond­ness for melan­choly and melody means each track packs a punch with both its hook and its gen­eral de­meanour, but th­ese are aligned to sound clashes from disco to dance­hall. Be it the mag­nif­i­cent swag­ger on As­cen­sion, the way Stro­belite makes its pres­ence felt, Grace Jones’s stel­lar con­tri­bu­tion to Charger or the full-on clat­ter from Danny Brown and Kelela on Sub­mis­sion, this is a record made with the groove in mind. More than any­thing, though, it’s an ex­am­ple of Al­barn’s mu­si­cal brain work­ing at full pelt. Be­tween solo al­bums, African mu­sic es­capades and the on­go­ing Blur fan­dango, he’s cov­ered a lot of ground with much elan else­where. Yet

Hu­manz shows he can also have the craic when it comes to mak­ing pop mu­sic with hip hop and R&B on the list of in­gre­di­ents. A man for all sea­sons. go­ril­laz.comJIM CAR­ROLL

GO­RIL­LAZ Hu­manz ★★★★ Par­lophone

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