It’s hard to believe that Gorillaz has been around for the better part of a century. It is perhaps the only cartoon band other than Jem & The Holograms to have any sort of popularity in America. And rightfully so. Its major singles ("Clint Eastwood," "Feel Good, Inc.") have been pure pop that deserve the radio airplay and commercial licensing they have received. But what gives this band its longevity is captain Damon Albarn’s willingness to go wherever the muse begs him to go.
D-Sides, the companion piece to 2005’s Demon Days, fills up two discs with B-sides, remixes, and outtakes. Through excellent sequencing, the first disc flows like a proper album. It opens with “68 State,” a somewhat rave-inspired instrumental complete with skronky Gang of Four-like guitars and a synth-lead that apes Alice Deejay. The next dozen tracks range anywhere from the upbeat ’80s hip-pop of “People” to the dubby “Bill Murray” to a ballad called “Hong Kong” that bridges the gap between Gorillaz and Albarn’s more recent project, The Good, The Bad & The Queen. It has puzzling moments — such as the overuse of the phrase "blah blah blah" on "Rockit" — but it comes off as the sort of eagerness for experimentation that’s to be expected from any Gorillaz album.
The remixes that constitute the second disc are less intriguing than the B-sides, but none of them are horrible. Most are predictably aimed at the club — several are remixed multiple times — and standouts include the DFA’s "Dare" and Hot Chip’s warm and fuzzy take on "Kids with Guns." But together with the first disc, this collection highlights why Gorillaz is the sort of band that continues to keep us on our toes.