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Are we the last living souls? Damon Albarn posits this question in the first vocals of Gorillaz sophomore album, Demon Days. By this time, you can already tell that this is an album mired in uniqueness, a melting pot of styles providing an unforgettable journey through the mind of the visionary. This was an album meant to be listened to from beginning to end. And with the first steps down that path, you know it will be an amazing ride.
The album opens with the aptly titled Intro, a slowly dissonant instrumental melody that reaches a fevered cresecendo. Abruptly, the sound fades away to join the opening to Last Living Souls. A haunting piece in which the title question is repeatedly asked, interspersed with intervals of melodic singing, setting the stage to fall further into the madness and emotion deep into the music, drawing it out for all to see.
The song ends without a moment of warning, falling into Kids With Guns. A lament for youth of today and where they're headed. The first radio single off the album, it fits just as well as a piece of the whole. This heads into O' Green World. "Oh green world. Don't desert me now." This bemoans the loss of nature and the replacement of the concrete jungles upon which covers it. Dirty Harry is the name of the next one down, and it's a song in which I believe Damon Albarn alludes to war and people being given weapons to kill. Halfway through the song it morphs into a rap reprisal of the lyrics.
Then, we come to the greatest moment in the album. With a sadistic chuckle, the music segues into Feel Good Inc. Without a doubt the most well-recieved song on the recording, and with good reason. Whether you're looking at it from a musical standpoint or lyrical, there's something for everyone. A song most about the loss of freedom of thought by the general public, to be replaced by a catatonic slumber in the shadow of the ideas of mass media and the public's celebrities. Its counterpart, El Manana is a quiet dirge against the fading of the innocence of youth. Even the title was made to be taken two ways. The direct translation is "The Morning", but I take away something deeper and take it one step forward to "The Mourning", going back to the fall of childhood.
After this, Every Planet We Reach Is Dead. Falling down and down ever further into despair, this song is a grim look back as Damon asks "What are we going to do?" And as this song slowny descends into the cataclysm, you fall haphazardly into November Has Come. As the waning of the year, the phrase evokes imagery of the sleep of life until spring. The beginning of the end for the calender, and a cold shadow falls onto the stirring perpetually active people.
And then, they are All Alone. Falling into the darkest hours of life, there's no one there. The cold emptiness forsaken of even shadow, only the darkness of the world. The song slowly gives way to White Light. To me, this is the embodiment of fragile hope that keeps many people going through their darkest hours, using something as a lifeline to pull themselves out of melancholy.
Pulled out of the abyss of the human mind, you go into what is the catchiest piece on the album, Dare. It feels like a ramping up of emotion in a whirlwind of excitement, as people help you escape from solitary twilight. From there, there's no turning back. You're climbing now.
This follows into Fire Coming Out Of The Monkey's Head. It's a haunting kaliedoscopic story about a civilization who lived in happiness at one with nature and the mountain. One day, while exploring, they found jewels deep inside the caves in it. Covetous thoughts of greed now define the race, and led them to terror. Eventually, it got to a point where the mountain exploded in a volcanic eruption. As the narrator puts it: "There were no screams. There was no time. The mountain called Monkey had spoken."
This leads into a choir-infused song known as Don't Get Lost In Heaven. It feels like awakening after a long dream. And even whilst they talk about happiness, they point out "Don't get lost in heaven, they got locks on the gates" which I decipher as even happiness isn't eternal, so enjoy it during the flashes of it you get. And this transistions into the climax, Demon Days. It goes slowly and slowly up and down in a roller-coaster ride of thrill meant to wrap up the entire album nicely, and it accomplishes its job rather well, sliding down to the lyrics that leave the very essence of the album summed up...
"In these demon days it's so cold inside
So hard for a good soul to survive
You can't even trust the air you breathe
Cause Mother Earth wants us all to leave
When lies become reality
You numb yourself with drugs and TV
Pick yourself up it's a brand new day
So turn yourself round
Don't burn yourself, turn yourself
Turn yourself around into the sun!"
For in the words echoing as a faint thought, as a sobering reminder of the alternative...
"There was only fire. And then...nothing."
~ Stranger 2012
(Note: The analysis of the lyrics is just what I'm getting out of it. Your mileage may vary.)
Great album, definitely my favorite album ever.
Wow... I must say, I'm greatly impressed. You showed me a few of the songs before, and I think you wondrously express the meanings and emotions of the songs... From hope to depression you twist my heart with your words, something that's despairing and relieving at the same time... I do believe that you did a great job with this, I can really tell that you love this album. :) Great blog.
I'm going to actually listen to the whole album this time. Great job! I can really tell how much you like the album. I would have done an album too, but as you found out, it was just too much to plod through. Thanks for annoying me enough to finally listen to them XD
I have to say Stranger, you never fail to impress. Great writing again friend.
I like Gorillaz, hell, it is one of the few bands where I actually care and listen attentively to the lyrics. I enjoyed how you took the whole album like if it was a line of story, really I've never seen or taken an album that way. That was pretty original.
P.S: Y u no tag bowling
Really good review. Nice to see how you're handling the WGWC. I look forward to more from you.
Great blog and awesome ban. love the gorillaz. thanks to you of course, you showed them to me lol.
Oh Gorillaz, I have fond memories of the band, I remember listening to Feel Good Inc. in 2005, they have really deep songs with a hidden meaning. Great read Stranger, once again.
P.S. I really need to start the first WGWC...
A great trip through a great group's great album! I guess that would be great cubed! GORiLLAZ is so awesome, their art style (visual) alone on their albums (discs?) and videos are so captivating and amazing! This was a great summary of each track, both descriptive and encompassing of the feel and progression of the entire album. This was also a very interesting writing exercise...
P.S. what is WGWC? A FOX affiliate in Baltimore? :P