Gorillaz - “Cracker Island” Album Review

Story posted March 1, 2023 in Arts & Entertainment by Francesca Arcuri.

The Gorillaz isn’t any average boyband, they came into the music scene and made it their own by crafting a digital universe. It's no surprise a comic artist and a guitarist could thrive in the music industry in such a unique way. The virtual musical group just released their eighth studio album on Feb. 24.

“Cracker Island” brings listeners ten new tracks that combine slow-paced melodic bars with some latin and symphonic elements to create a listening experience unique from the rest. Coming from London, England Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett work together and use abstract instrumentation to make a listening experience like no other.

Their genre has been classified as Rock, Pop, Electronic Hip Hop and Alternative. In the music video for one of their first releases “Tomorrow Comes Today” they introduced the members Murdoc Niccals, 2-D, Noodle and Russel Hobbs.

The beginning of the album has a lyrical laid-back vibe while halfway through the main focus shifts to impressive instrumentals. Later in the album, they incorporate experimental electronic accompaniment similar to their other releases. Overall, the lyrics have a minimal style but still give off a sad mood and a sense of reflection.

Multiple tracks differed from their past albums, there was an emphasis on storytelling through lyrics rather than their usual upbeat techno scores. The band has an extraordinary talent when it comes to collaborations, and the features aren’t aimed to disappoint.

Starting on a bad foot the title track “Cracker Island (feat. Thundercat)” was a letdown because of its overwhelming chorus and mainstream pop vibe. However, “New Gold (feat. Tame Impala)” brings an exciting intensity back to the collection. This song does well reflecting the band’s familiar psychedelic rock aesthetic.

A funky upbeat mood surfaces in “The Tired Influenster” where they combine overlapping vocals and ambient melodies. The song “Tarantula” gave off a love story feel while “Possession Island (feat. Beck)” had an underlying theme of searching for meaning.

In “The Tired Influenster” the lead singer says, “Logic kills and Silver Lake reflections just trying to keep my head up” and “It was a different time I hear that a lot up in the hills” giving the sense of unfortunate circumstances and regret.

Another track “Tormenta (feat. Bad Bunny),” was a nice touch to the album. Some could describe it as another sad love song but the upbeat latin style was a nice surprise. Additionally, fans on the Gorillaz Twitter page seemed excited about this track and flooded them with support.

The further one falls into the album the more it takes on the traditional Gorillaz style. It seemed that exploring new horizons with exciting collaborations and incorporating relaxed melodies was the goal of this project.

Although the group strayed from their more well-known electronic pop style, “Cracker Island” was a great addition to the band’s discography.

Rating: 7/10

Reviewer's Favorite Song(s): “Oil (feat. Stevie Nicks),” “New Gold (feat. Tame Impala)”

Reviewer’s Least Favorite Song(s): “Cracker Island (feat. Thundercat),” “Silent Running (feat. Adeleye Omotayo)”

Francesca Arcuri is a third year majoring in telecommunications. To contact her, email fma5269@psu.edu.