I didn’t immediately cozy up to the second proper Gorillaz album, Demon Days. I rather enjoyed the eponymous debut, but this was a whole other beast. Far more Blur influence and a much more frenzied sound (with some strong dance influences on the second half), Demon Days is a dirtier record than its predecessor. Some tracks don’t reach their goals; the attempt to replicate the success of “Clint Eastwood” with “Dirty Harry” doesn’t come over well, and a few of the later songs (“White Light” and “Don’t Get Lost in Heaven”) are not as good as their influences.
But “Every Planet We Reach is Dead” gives me the shivers. On good headphones, the song’s climax alone will convince you the high-concept cartoon group has once again achieved pop success, this time with Danger Mouse behind the boards. The rest of the record, which features a host of guests, including MF Doom and Dennis Hopper, is equally appealing gloriously over-produced party music. After the mastermind behind the Grey Album replaced Dan the Automator, it became clear that Damon Albarn was steering this ship creatively. But that’s not so bad when the results are like these.
Some pop music can hit you immediately, hook you on first listen. Other, better pop music is a little fuzzier: The first time can be a strange experience, and sometimes you aren’t quite sure that someone isn’t playing a joke on you (especially true in this age of leaked copies on the Internet). But as you listen to it more and more, the music begins to make sense, the hooks come into focus and everything appears in sharp resolution, manifesting itself in a giant pop animal created for your indulgence. It can be difficult to stay with a record long enough because there is so much music out there, but Demon Days is worth the effort.