Released February 24, 2023 via Parlophone Records
Reviewed March 21, 2023
Top tracks (based on community voting)
Cracker Island (ft. Thundercat) (85%), New Gold (ft. Tame Impala & Bootie Brown) (45%), Skinny Ape (40%)
With their eighth album, Cracker Island, Damon Albarn and everyone’s favorite virtual band stick with what works for another testament to the longevity of Gorillaz. A cartoon band made up of four characters with very different personalities, there’s an element to the band that SHOULD feel gimmicky. Yet, Gorillaz have now been going strong for almost 25 years and that has yet to be the case. Credit this to a combination of Jamie Hewlett’s art and the band’s evolving aesthetics, surprisingly extensive lore, and most importantly, consistency.
In their ever-expanding fictional universe, Gorillaz have taken up residence in Los Angeles, rather than their usual home in London. It’s during this time that the band—mostly at the behest of Murdoc—end up forming a cult, which loosely ties into some of the lyrics on Cracker Island, most notably the title track. And while the lore goes a bit deeper, it exists more-so as an extra element of quirkiness for hardcore fans rather than an overarching concept for the album.
Simply put, this album is just what you would expect from Gorillaz of recent. Cracker Island lacks the striking commentary heard on earlier records like Demon Days and Plastic Beach, and it’s far from a reinvention of Damon Albarn’s usual approach to their sound. But there is nothing wrong with that. When you can craft these sorts of pop fusions, why switch up?
It’s electropop meets trip-hop, it’s synth-funk meets dub, it is Gorillaz. Gorillaz tap into a number of features to bolster both the star-power and quality of Cracker Island. At just a glance, Bad Bunny, Stevie Nicks, and Thundercat jump out as three notable (of seven total) features. And none of them seem out of place alongside Gorillaz, despite the varying sounds these artists cover. Each of the features complement the band and bring their own flavor to the track they’re on, bringing a nice sense of variation to a summery, carefree, and solid addition to the Gorillaz’ catalog. – Dominick (7.8/10)
Pax: 7.8/10 | Dominick: 7.8/10 | Cam: 7/10 | DeVán: 7/10
What an album. Much better than I expected and possibly their best? At least on par with Demon Days and Plastic Beach at the very least. Very fun summer time vibes with very potent electronic instrumentals. The songwriting cuts much deeper than it may appear on the surface. The progression to the final two tracks is very good and consistent. “Possession Island” is one of the best tracks of the year thus far. – @buhrm33 (9.5/10)
Cracker Island screams everything that makes Gorillaz…well, Gorillaz, with its versatile guest list and sonic chaos. And although it doesn’t live up to the status of the band’s most notable releases, there’s certainly enough creativity on Albarn’s part to welcome listeners back. – @smells.like.sheen.spirit (7/10)