Listen to Meanwhile, a v-excellent surprise EP from Splendour 2022 headliners, Gorillaz
The three-track EP is a capsule of new music following the release of the band's last record - Song Machine, Season One - last year.
Despite their notoriety as one of music's most accomplished and pioneering bands, Gorillaz haven't dropped their consistency since they formed two decades ago now. Ever since sharing their self-titled debut album in 2001, the animated group have year-in and year-out delivered morsels of new music, whether that be in the forms of entire new albums, collaborative and conceptual records, b-side and demo collections, remix packages, special editions, EPs, or just one-off new singles and collaborations. They're one of the hardest working bands in the business, and considering they've reached the point of their careers where they could take the back seat and share an album once every few years and call it a day, it's something really special to find.
Just take their output over the last year, for example. In 2020, they shared Song Machine, Season One - a collaboration-heavy, drip-fed record that saw the band come together with guests including Schoolboy Q, St. Vincent, slowthai, JPEGMAFIA, EARTHGANG and more. Songs from the album were steadily released through the year in 'episodes' (often with 'Bitez' of instrumentals which didn't feature on the end record), and on top of all of that, they also shared 'Song Machine Mixes' from each of their four members, as well as a couple of 2020-branded revisits of their previous albums.
And yet, despite a hectic outpour of new music last year, they're already back with something new. Today beckons the arrival of a surprise new EP from Gorillaz; a three-track release that captures the band's glory through a new lens, showing how they're continuing to evolve and experiment within their sound even an entire two decades after initially defining it. It's an EP that dances between sounds and textures, from the shadings of dancehall on Déjà Vu (recorded live from London), to the grimier Jimmy Jimmy, which moves with an invigorated hip-hop edge bolstered by go-to collaborator AJ Tracey.
Then, there's the EP's title track Meanwhile - a show of Gorillaz's genre-blurring experimentalism within a distinct three minutes, enlisting Jelani Blackman and Barrington Levy for a part-R&B, part-rap, part-indie explosion of boldness. It's one of the best songs Gorillaz have put out in the last ten years, and a highlight of the band's ever-present finger on the pulse, and the beauty they're able to create out of their collaboration-heavy songwriting style.
The end result is the genre-blurring, star-capturing collection of tracks that as the band explain, are indebted to the Notting Hill Carnival - which was cancelled this year due to the pandemic - and the diverse backdrop of West London, an area that the band are notorious flagbearers for. It's really special, and a strong reminder of the talents of Damon Albarn and co. as one of music's most forward-thinking and brilliant songwriters, and the culture - the art, the music, the people, the community - that thrive amongst Gorillaz's work.
Check out the EP below, and stay tuned for their return to Australian shores in July 2022, as they headline Splendour In The Grass.