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CD Review
Gorillaz- Demon Days
by Arya Chowdhury
Staff Writer

You can divide artists roughly into two camps, for the most part: those that seek to remain accessible with the public, and those that strive to conjure mystique around their art and themselves. Gorillaz have extended the latter option insofar as to recreate themselves as cartoon characters who play their songs as a projection, while the musicians themselves play behind a covering. Certainly, Pink Floyd have incorporated similar elements of such a stage show during "The Wall" period, in which the majority of their set keeps them behind a gigantic wall that crumbles slowly in the course of the performance.

However, Gorillaz do not simply rely on the gimmick as a mere visual stunt. In fact, with their second full-length CD "Demon Days", the music complements the eccentricity of their Japanese animation alter-egos quite well. The CD opens with what sounds like a bass clarinet, immediately prefiguring the off-kilter tone of the album. It's like watching their cartoon adventure as it unfolds in a haunted house, and there are layers of various background, creepy noises to sustain that tension.

The next several songs do well enough to diffuse the dark, brooding tone musically. Case in point: "Kids with Guns" starts with a very simple guitar/bass riff and drumbeat, while the singer sings, offhandedly, "kids with guns" repeatedly. I have a hunch that some people at this point would think that the group is either really stupid or really funny, and I can see valid arguments for both sides. However, as the music develops, the song becomes really cool, and the lyrics become, yes, more insightful. This is what I find special in their music; it may start off as the goofiest, almost child-like sketch that builds momentum and reveals layers and context, which cultivates a true sense of cohesion upon repeated listens.

The fifth track is when things start to get really interesting. "Dirty Harry" (yes, a nod to their first hit "Clint Eastwood") is just an all-out funky song with some dark sardonic lyrics with regards to the growing extremes of wealth and poverty, in my opinion. The song then layers with children singing the lyrics as well, which again strikes the balance of child-like vs. brooding.

The first single off the album, "Feel Good, Inc.", currently has my favorite bass-line in a song. It's that song where, once it kicks in, I have to turn it up that much louder to have it pump. It really is a fun, ready-for-the-dance-club, sub-kicking party jam but occasionally drops to quieter section depicting a more innocent time. The somewhat cryptic lyrics make for an interesting ride, and it's really nice to see De La Soul guest on a song that is on the cutting edge concept- and production-wise as something off of "3 Feet High and Rising".

There are many reasons to like this CD. For one, plenty of the songs can be played at a club, and people would be into the beats; the production is fantastic and a refreshing departure from much of the mainstream. It is also one of the simultaneously funniest, darkest releases in quite some time. From what I gather, the CD is meant as a concept piece that deals with mortality and decadence, and the lyrics do tie nicely together to paint such a narrative. This makes me even more excited for Gorillaz's next release.
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