A side project doesn¹t usually hit gold, especially when said project is a quirky virtual collective fronted by cartoon characters. But the first, self-titled album by Gorillaz--the brainchild of illustrator Jamie Hewlett and Blur frontman Damon Albarn--actually hit platinum and turned into a surprise worldwide hit. Naturally expectations were a lot higher for Gorillaz's sophomore effort, but Demon Days
actually is even better than its predecessor. With producer Dan "the Automator" Nakamura gone, Albarn, a.k.a. 2D, has paired up with DJ Danger Mouse (responsible for the infamous Grey Album
that illegally mixed the Beatles and Jay-Z) to steer the musical ship, while a whole new slew of guests enlivens the proceedings. Albarn has described Demon Days
as being darker, but there's a real kooky dance-party vibe coursing through the CD. Despite its somber tone, "Kids with Guns" is lifted by a killer bass line, for instance, while the catchy first single, "Feel Good Inc," is augmented by an appealing contribution from De La Soul. Other noteworthy guests include Roots Manuva and Tricky collaborator Martina Topley-Bird on the dubby "All Alone" and Happy Mondays singer Shaun Ryder on the bouncy "DARE." And yet it's a 69-year-old actor who gets to deliver the most baffling contribution--just listen to Dennis Hopper's spoken-word narrative on "Fire Coming Out of the Monkey's Head." Elisabeth Vincentelli
The 15-track "Demon Days" is the follow-up to Gorillaz's worldwide smash self-titled debut, which has sold more than 1.54 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and six million worldwide, according to Virgin. EMI. 2005.