Gorillaz – On Melancholy Hill

Release Date 26/07/2010 (EMI)

By Steve Head

I’m going to get a lot of flak for this. Right, I know that Damon Albarn is a musical rainman, a rarified walking, talking lump of prodigious talent and anti-establishment cool. I realise that criticising the man is tantamount to drawing cocks on a bible. I also accept that under the guise of Gorillaz he has written some truly remarkable music and collaborated with pretty much everyone worth cramming a studio with. I’m aware that every single is complemented by an intricate and fascinating animated short detailing the ongoing adventures of the band members. I also know that despite all of this (and this is where the shit starts raining through my letterbox), I just don’t get it.

I’ve tried believe me. I think if we’re all brutally honest with ourselves there are certain bands that we know we should like, bands that our mates bang on about and can’t understand why we don’t agree. “What the hell’s wrong with you Steve? Are you simple? Do you even dress yourself in the morning you insufferable mouth-breathing ballsack?” Alas, though we try so hard that our philistine ears bleed we just can’t bring ourselves to give a monkey’s about them. For me this band is Gorillaz. However, with the sanctity of objective journalism in mind, I’ll endeavour to put all this behind me and let new single ‘On Melancholy Hill’ speak for itself.

And spake it well. It’s really pretty good, a dreamy and soulful lament that stands quite apart from the usual Gorillaz fare. According to band member Murdoc’s track-by-track breakdown, it represents the one truly accessible pop moment on the album, which deftly explains why an uninitiated lobotomy such as myself swarmed to it like a moth to a flame. Albarn’s vocals have always engendered a certain knowing melancholy and drift beautifully astride a slow-burning lazy day tune, that, though wistful, also manages to be surprisingly uplifting. It’s like the back end of a two-day hangover put to music, mellow, but with a little light at the end of the tunnel. It also happens to be the only ballad in the history of recorded music to namecheck a manatee and retain its integrity.

Long story short, it’s a nice break from the norm and a strong single. Damon, I’m sorry, let’s start over…

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