In 2001, Damon Albarn worked with cartoonist Jamie Hewlett to conceive a cartoonish synth-rock band. The parody of the artificiality of mainstream pop music unexpectedly became a runaway pop icon in its own right, thanks to its catchy, genre-blurring, endlessly listenable music.
There’s less of that endlessly listenable music on the group’s fourth album, Humanz, its first in seven years. Still, three of the tracks — “Ascension,” featuring Vance Staples, “Andromeda,” featuring DRAM and “Saturnz Barz,” featuring Popcaan — are an example of Gorillaz at their best, somehow feeling unexpected, bizarre and completely natural all at once.
Staples is one of two up-and-coming hip-hop stars who will take the stage when the current tour hits our area on Monday, July 17, at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland, the other being Danny Brown.
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