Gorillaz’ new album The Now Now arrives June 29, just over a year after last spring’s star-studded Humanz. This time around, Damon Albarn’s cartoon band pursued a simpler direction that’s lighter on guest appearances—just Snoop Dogg, house music legend Jamie Principle, and jazz guitarist George Benson—and features production by James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, Depeche Mode) and Remi Kabaka. “I did it in a month with just James Ford and Remi, and finished it at the end of February,” Albarn recently told Entertainment Weekly of the new album. “If you don’t like my voice, it’s probably not worth investigating this record. If you do like my voice, I would strongly recommend you buy it.”
Gorillaz have been very generous with teasers and singles surrounding their latest. After debuting “Hollywood” in Chile, Gorillaz released a video announcing the album on TheNowNow.tv and have since rolled out numerous singles, including “Humility,” “Lake Zurich” “Sorcererz,” “Fire Flies” and “Hollywood.” Meanwhile, “Tranz,” “The Souk Eye” and “Magic City” were premiered live at Germany’s Rock AM Ring festival earlier this month. Gorillaz also played the album in its entirety via the Boiler Room’s audio-visual livestream.
The sprawling deluxe edition of Humanz had 26 tracks, but The Now Now is more modest. Here’s the full track list for the new album:
1. “Humility” (feat. George Benson)
3. “Hollywood” (ft. Snoop Dogg and Jamie Principle)
7. “Lake Zurich”
8. “Magic City”
9. “Fire Flies”
10. “One Percent”
11. “Souk Eye”
With fewer human celebrity collaborators, Gorillaz’ iconic animated characters are back in the foreground—and one new member has crossed over from the world of The Powerpuff Girls. “Noodle has turned into a woman—she was a child, now she’s a woman,” Albarn recently told Beats 1. “Murdoc is in prison and has been replaced by Ace, who originally was in the Gangreen Gang who were a part of The Powerpuff Girls. 2D’s hair is kind of slightly receding, and Russell fluctuates in weight depending on which album cycle he’s in.”
Noisey recently sat down for an “interview” with the characters, who affirmed they’re feeling torn but doing better. “There is no ‘good place’ for Gorillaz,” Noodle said. “We are always between places, never staying still. For now, Murdoc is in a place with lots of bars and locks. Russel is trying to put the world back together, like it’s a broken teapot. 2D is… well, in a new place. Less fragile, somehow, stronger. It’s weird. He’s even stopped watching Gilmore Girls.”
Gorillaz are currently in Europe, where they’re making the festival rounds. Touring was one motivation for making a new album, as Albarn told Beats 1: “There was a real demand to come back this year and I wasn’t up for doing it unless I had something fresh to play. … I suppose this is sort of like a ‘reset record.'”
The group will stop in Canada before launching the North American leg of their tour with The Internet in the fall, wrapping up in Los Angeles for the band’s own curated Demon Dayz Festival on October 20. This year’s Demon Dayz lineup features Erykah Badu, The Internet, DRAM, Little Simz, Kilo Kish, Ana Tijoux, Tony Allen, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Las Cafeteria, and Chulita Vinyl Club. See all upcoming dates via the band’s website.