The album has a strong opening in “Ascension”, with Vince Staples delivering some of the album’s most memorable lyrics. Similarly, “Saturn barz” sounds like a classic Gorillaz song with 2-D’s (Albarn) dull vocals and Popcaan’s contributions over a catchy industrial beat.

Some tracks, such as “Momentz”, miss the mark. The song features Gorillaz veteran contributors De La Soul over a jarring beat that muffles out the group’s contribution. “Andromeda” also makes poor use of contributor D.R.A.M., although the song is one of the best on the album.

“Strobelite” is another example of why the album can be a let-down after a few listens. The song features Peven Everett over a groovy beat, but at some points silences sound as if lines have been removed. Whether this was a purposeful choice or Albarn changed his original concept, it can sound awkward. Albarn was quoted in an interview with Sterogum as telling contributors to imagine a world where Trump won the US elections, but the album holds few, if any, references to this.

Halfway through the album listeners are given some perfectly placed respite from the up-tempo heavy songs with the whispy slow club track “Andromeda”, and the woeful “Broken and blue”.

Although the album has a few conceptual downfalls, tracks such as “Andromeda”, “Carnival”, “Let me out”, Grace Jones’ excellent feature on “Charger” and “Sex murder party” hold up to fan expectations. The album is worth a few listen-throughs. A deluxe edition is available, but even though Albarn has tried to fit the extra five songs onto the album seamlessly with an interlude, they still feel rather misplaced on the album.

3/5

 

 Image: genius.com.

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