In case you haven’t been paying attention to Gorillaz lately, now might be a good time to reengage the pop-rock-hip-hop project founded by musician Damon Albarn (Blur) and animator Jamie Hewlett (Tank Girl). Having made their “virtual band” mark with hits like “Clint Eastwood,” “Feel Good Inc.,” and others, the entity moved quickly from novelty to institution. But what would make them interesting now?

For starters, Albarn and Hewlett have fashioned the Song Machine, a series of video singles that have debuted all throughout 2020. This was likely developed long before the most cursed year, but has been one of the few things worth looking forward to throughout it. Fashioned like the music industry of old, these Gorillaz songs have filtered out one by one much as 45 rpm singles did in the 1950s and 1960s. At year’s end, these will be released in a collected, true album, just like the old days.

That’s interesting, but what about the music?

There are some heavily inflected rap/hip-hop tracks, which we have come to expect, just as we’ve come to rely on shiny pop from the Gorillaz brand. But the exciting distinction of Song Machine has been the star-studded features, including a slew of classic rock artists.

One of the first to come through was “Aries” featuring Joy Division/New Order multi-instrumentalist Peter Hook.

While the world waits patiently for the return of The Cure, how about “Strange Timez” with Robert Smith?

Last week saw the debut of “The Pink Phantom” featuring none other than Sir Elton John, sounding more Fantastic than the Captain has in many a year.

The Season One collection of Song Machine is expected on multiple formats on October 23.

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