Released: 24th February 2023
Welcome to Cracker Island, the newfound home of Gorillaz. In search of a singular truth, Noodle, Murdoc, 2-D and Russel Hobbs have decided on starting a cult. The Last Cult, in fact. They’ve recruited a cast of big-name pals – Thundercat, Stevie Nicks, Tame Impala to name a few – and as they unleash ‘Cracker Island’ onto the world, they are laughingly safe in the knowledge many others will join their cause.
In a way, ‘Cracker Island’ is classic Gorillaz – conceptually rich (and some would argue wacky) and filled with unpredictable bangers. And though it may be characteristic of the group, part of their typical release is maintaining innovation, and ‘Cracker Island’ does exactly that. From the tightly-woven vocals of Stevie Nicks on ‘Oil’ to the lullaby piano notes of the Bad Bunny featuring ‘Tormenta’, each track pushes a musical boundary in a new way, as we have no doubt come to expect from them.
On ‘Cracker Island’, Gorillaz artfully craft a selection of tracks that are simultaneously soothing and unnerving. ‘Baby Queen’ is a wistful retelling of a particularly memorable Blur gig, sitting flush with the bouncing, jazz guitars of ‘Tarantula’. Final track, ‘Possession Island’ calls upon Beck to craft a seemingly ominous conclusion, but finds a much-needed levity towards the end. Yet, whilst the more lowkey tracks are impressive, it’s the higher tempo moments on the album that shine brightest – ‘Skinny Ape’ is giddy with release, whilst ‘New Gold’ with Tame Impala and Bootie Brown is arguably one of the best tracks in their extensive arsenal. Gorillaz are now over twenty years in the game, but ‘Cracker Island’ proves their capacity for reinvention and genius has not waned over the years, nor does it look likely to.