Gorillaz, Demon Days

Hua Hsu

By Hua Hsu

on 05.18.11 in Reviews

Demon Days

Spookier, denser and darker than their debut

For the second Gorillaz album, Albarn traded Del and the Automator in for producer Danger Mouse. Fresh off his Jay-Z-meets-the-Beatles Grey Album success, Danger Mouse repaid Albarn's confidence with imagination and verve. Spookier, denser and darker than Gorillaz, Demon Days recounted the tale of the last primates to survive the apocalypse. It's a versatile crew, the ones who saw the light and lived through it: De La Soul chase the madcap rhythms of the excellent "Feel Good Inc.," M.F. Doom lends the sparse "November Has Come" a bruised ambience, Roots Manuva — with assistance from Martina Topley-Bird — tames the frenetic, almost-dubstep rhythms of "All Alone" and Danger Mouse proves to be an able, patient heir to Automator on the Think Tank-sounding "Dirty Harry." And then there are the true survivors. A straight-faced Dennis Hopper delivers the Gorillaz creation/destruction myth like a bedtime story on "Fire Coming out of a Monkey's Head," before Albarn saunters in with a casual cool. A suggestion that the end might actually be near: a rehabbed and bedraggled Shaun Ryder, whose late 1980s records with the Happy Mondays inspired Leisure and countless others, shows up for an off-kilter cameo shadowing the tipsy melody of "Dare."