A reluctant review of ‘Cracker Island’ by Gorillaz

A reluctant review of Cracker Island by Gorillaz

 Time pushes forward and everything ages; it’s a given. The creamiest of singing voices become the crispiest, the younger grow older, our minds get duller, our teeth get longer. Everything must come to an end at some point, and even the most perfect things get worse with time. We need to excuse these circumstances, as no one can help it. 

   Arbitrarily deciding to make everything suck is usually not anyone’s plan… But one of my favorite bands made an album I don’t really like so screw all of that, I’m gonna complain the WHOLE time. 

   Gorillaz’s Cracker Island is a very unfortunate release and we need to stop pretending it’s better than it actually is. Take this hunk of disappointment at face value and get as disappointed as I am. Gorillaz is a band that I feel has no need for an introduction; the decrepit and old wave their canes and amoxicillin reminiscing about songs like “Feel Good Inc.” and “Clint Eastwood” while the young, ruly and drooly know “hits” like “New Gold,” “She’s My Collar,” and “Rhinestone Eyes.” 

   Nothing is inherently WRONG with liking certain songs or having a preference of sound. I just bring these two categories together because they seem to constantly be in a battle with each other on who the bigger fan is, strictly based on when a song was released. I have always seen absolutely zero point in arguing about how bands “used to sound better,” but as of the time writing this (2/25/23) and having had Cracker Island to myself for a whole 36 hours, I fear that I’m becoming what I hate.

   Now I’m going to get this out of the way: I like a few songs off of this album. I won’t sit here and lie that EVERYTHING is terrible. Songs like “Tarantula”, “Oil”, and “Silent Running” were very pleasant listens, and just fun in general. But everything else lacks the touch of love. These are VERY well produced tracks, and it’s very clear that they had a ton of focus on the quality of songs rather than the amount of songs, with the exception of “Tormenta”, with it being a super empty and huge fail at a reggae track. Every Gorillaz album averages around 16 songs per album, counting deluxe editions and EPs, and with Cracker Island sitting at 10 tracks, it’s the band’s third shortest studio album, following behind The Now Now. It all sounds very good and they very much knew what they were doing. The big problem I have with it is that it just doesn’t sound like them. Gorillaz never really had a primary sound, but somehow you could always tell whether or not you were listening to a song by them immediately. The reason they’re so distinguishable from many other bands is because they aren’t particularly afraid to break the mold and try to strive for absolutely flawless sounds, and most of the time, they’re successful. Great stories within the song and a good mix of styles are their biggest strong suits, but they’re seldom present in Cracker Island

   There’s a lot of baggage that comes with these songs, the main problem being how uncreative and cheesy a lot of the tracks are. I personally don’t mind when songs are cheesy, but this just doesn’t seem like a mood Gorillaz would partake in. I should say right off the bat that I understand that bands can’t stay the same, but they’ve become so infected with this transition to the world of technology so harshly. They have been around for over two decades, and they’re just NOW starting to lose their touch? 

   I call BS.

   I feel like the vibes are kind of off for the release of this album. Cracker Island has such a summer-y feel to it. Releasing it at one of the weirdest and groggiest times of the year may have had a psychological impact on me. The singles they released throughout the year were mostly nice because they had their own separate points to really shine and dig their claws into the setting. Having the new songs be a combination of upbeat pop and alt/indie in a setting of melting snow and dead grass makes for kind of a gross experience. Maybe if this album was released last June… 

   I really hope they either improve their music or step away from the band permanently or for a long lasting hiatus in the nicest way possible, because this has all been so underwhelming and it’s clear to see that Damon is aging and losing his overall touch. If they get back to their creative roots and start putting a little more thought into songs rather than their features and how long songs will trend for, that’ll be great! But I’m starting to lose hope for this band and any recoveries in the near future.