Gorillaz’s second studio album Demon Days is nearing its 15th anniversary. This seminal mid-2000s album is one of their greatest achievements and a classic for many who grew up in that era.
Unlike its glossy successor Demon Days is a heavy and murky anti-war album, reflected in both lyrics and song titles, ‘Kids With Guns’ perhaps being the most obvious. One trait both Demon Days and Plastic Beach share, however, is an excellent mix of genres and features from different artists. In ‘Feel Good Inc’ alone there’s a mix of hip-hop and alternative rock. The song ‘November Has Come’ heavily features MF Doom, perhaps most memorable however is Shaun Ryder on ‘Dare’ and even actor Dennis Hopper on ‘Fire Coming out of the Monkey’s Head’. The latter of which is more of a beat poem voiced by Hopper, telling a story which ultimately acts as an allegory for wars surrounding oil – heavy stuff.
Naturally, despite all the features on various songs, the highlight is still Damon Albarn on many of the tracks. Albarn (creator of Gorillaz along with Jamie Hewlett) seems to effortlessly switch style between songs. Albarn’s work on the chorus of ‘November Has Come’ is softer and melodic compared to his heavy growling on ‘White Light’.
But in many ways, these heavy moments serve to elevate the lighter moments towards the end of the album. ‘Don’t Get Lost in Heaven’ is an airy, soft song with a chorus from the London Community Gospel Choir. These songs are certainly the exception rather than the rule. It all tends to illustrate the mood of the time, between their first self-titled album in 2001 and Demon Days in 2005 the tone in the world had shifted greatly. Their first album debut months before 9/11, the war in Afghanistan began in 2001, Iraq invasion in 2003, to name but a few. All of which impacted Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett. Demon Days in many ways acts as a call back to these feelings of the early 2000s, slightly more complex than your average mid-2000s pop album. Unfortunately, this complexity hasn’t been seen since their 2010 album Plastic Beach.
Watch the video for ‘Feel Good Inc’ below: