Arts, Music

Gorillaz’s ‘Cracker Island’ Adds a Sense of Tranquility to the Alternative Indie Genre


Gorillaz, a British virtual band created by rockers Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, finally released its eighth album, Cracker Island, on Feb. 24. The songs on the album follow the band’s quintessential genre of funky, electronic music, but on Cracker Island, Gorillaz tries its hand at reducing its classic wild sound in favor of a more mellowed-out energy. 

In comparison to “Feel Good Inc.” and “Clint Eastwood,” Gorillaz’s most played songs on Spotify, Cracker Island resonates a softer feel and a more chill ambience. At first, it’s strange to listen to Gorillaz without the continuously loud synths and Albarn’s robotic lead vocals. But rather than missing the band’s old sound, Cracker Island is a gateway to Gorillaz’s more soothing, modern funk-pop. 

The album as a whole is more mellow, but given the album’s song titles—“Tarantula” and “Skinny Ape”—it is clear that at least some of the tracks are equipped with Gorillaz’s typical craziness. The title track, “Cracker Island” follows the same style as the band’s previous discography with its trippy instrumentals.

“Oil,” featuring Stevie Nicks; “Baby Queen;” “Silent Running,” featuring Adeleye Omotayo; and especially “Possession Island,” featuring Beck, however, honor the band’s new tranquil direction. 

Beck leads the album’s descent into a slow, vocal-heavy direction with “Possession Island.” Gorillaz showcases its acoustic edge with the song’s inclusion of piano notes and raw percussion instruments.

Gorillaz is well known for its collaborations with artists from diverse genres, such as Kali Uchis’ feature in “She’s My Collar” in Gorillaz’s 2017 album Humanz. As Cracker Island’s “Tormenta” was produced with Bad Bunny, Gorillaz yet again shows off its gift of collaboration. 

Bad Bunny and Gorillaz’s collaboration in “Tormenta” contains Spanish lyrics, building Gorillaz’s sense of musical diversity. Combining Bad Bunny’s Latin-dance and hip-hop style with Gorillaz’s new exploration for soft electronic music, “Tormenta” creates a mixed genre of slow dance with some Latin flair. 

The album also features Nicks, a member of Fleetwood Mac, and Tame Impala. Both of these artists have been revolutionary in their own music genres. So, when Gorillaz joins them both in one album, the result is unique and fresh. 

Gorillaz and Tame Impala have a shared eccentric style, created by their use of eclectic, vibrant synths and echoey vocal chords. The feature of Tame Impala on “New Gold” blends well musically, and it is currently the most played single of the album on Spotify.

“What are we living for? / Are we losing our minds? / Because life got in the way,” Gorillaz sings in “New Gold.” 

These new songs join Gorillaz’s past discography to make its electronic music feel more relaxed overall. Cracker Island perfectly adds to Gorillaz’s concert setlist. Considering the rest of its discography’s futuristic and wild sense, the setlist is energetic, quirky, and now—to an extent—tranquil. 

March 13, 2023