ALBUM OF THE WEEK
The ever-busy Damon Albarn has not wasted time in following up last year’s patchy and meandering Humanz. This sharp, lean album was made quickly while he was putting the finishing touches on his second album with the Good, the Bad and the Queen but it rarely feels rushed out. It’s not as guest-heavy as before — only three collaborators are used, as opposed to the 15 that populated its predecessor — and that has helped Albarn to keep both focus and control, and while there’s still a gleefully genre-hopping quality about this cartoon band, the Blur man pulls the disparate influences together with ease. There’s a hazy feel to ‘Hollywood’, which features a slumming Snoop Dogg, and the mediative ‘Humility’ employs the iconic American jazz guitarist George Benson to impressive effect. It’s arguably the most introspective and downbeat Gorillaz album to date and delivers two songs to join their very best work. ‘Kansas’ may have a world-weary delivery but it’s utterly compelling and ‘Magic City’ floats along dreamily.
It’s true that the quality on The Now Now dips a little towards the end, especially when Albarn appears to be recycling old ideas, but it’s also clear that his most popular side project has a distance left to run yet.