That the first high profile political album of the Donald Trump era would come from a band of fictitious cartoon characters feels hugely appropriate.

After the former TV reality star emerged victorious last November two things were immediately predicted: 1) music's return to prominence as an effective and disruptive protest tool and 2) the end of the world.

After the President's first 100 days in power neither prophecy, the good one or the bad one, has come to fruition. Humanz, the first album from cartoon pop band Gorillaz in seven years, imagines that both had.

Gorillaz co-creator and musical mastermind Damon Albarn conceptualised the album as "party music for the end of the world", asking the many guest vocalists to imagine a world with Trump in charge. You could call it unfortunately prophetic.


After a brief intro the music proper starts with the extended drone of a warning siren - a sound as familiar to ravers throwing their hands in the air as it is to those scurrying for dear life to an air-raid shelter. A perfect sonic metaphor for the album's central conceit.

Ascension's lyrics don't waste any time getting to the point. On this hyped club track rapper Vince Staples repeats a high-energy refrain of, "The sky's falling baby / Drop that ass 'fore it crash", encouraging partying to the death. It works in stark contrast to Albarn's medicated verse of, "In these times of sedition / well, nothing is dull / I'm moving into stillness".

As the seditious Trump wages war on long-held traditions and presidential norms this feels like a perfectly valid response to his gaslighting, chants of "fake news" and wilful spreading of misinformation.

But the real genius in this song, and the others on Humanz, is that you can overlook all this if you just want to get up and dance. The message may have got the party started but it never gets in the way. Albarn ensured this by editing out any overtly political mentions from his guest collaborators.

Unlike previous Gorillaz albums Humanz is mostly upbeat despite its bummer of a concept.

De La Soul slip and slide over the crazed Momentz, Andromeda is euphoric pop-house while the mad Charger has Albarn delivering a deliriously bonkers melody while Grace Jones cackles, "I am the ghost" behind him.

That's not to say their moody melancholia or dour beats are totally absent. Albarn's one solo turn is called Busted and Blue for example, while Let Me Out has rapper Pusha T pleading, "Tell me I won't die at the hands of the police".

Elsewhere the album gets some late night edge from its two slinkily seductive floor-fillers, Sex Murder Party and She's My Collar.

The most political Humanz gets is on Hallelujah Money, a twisted gospel track that both recalls and recoils from Blur's warm Tender. Here, the deep clipped baritone of avant-garde vocalist Benjamin Clementine recasts Trump as a preacher testifying with full conviction about building "walls like unicorns / In full glory", while insisting, "It is love, that is the root of all evil".

But really, Humanz isn't about the politics behind the Armageddon. Instead, it's about the human reaction to it. This makes the record a strangely non-political political album.

The songs imagine the now, the future and the last night on earth. It's a sonic Mad Max for the club generation. Here, Gorillaz have turned the Armageddon into the party event of the year.

This makes Humanz the record to reach for when you truly want to party like there's no tomorrow.




A sonic

Mad Max

for the club generation.