Continuing their “Song Machine” initiative, which sees a new track released almost every month, Gorillaz released their latest track, “Aries,” on April 9.
“Aries” features Peter Hook from Joy Division on bass and music producer and drummer Georgia on drums, a change different from the prior iterations of “Song Machine” where featuring artists were primarily dedicated to vocals.
With the features taking care of a portion of the instrumentals, Damon Albarn heard only on keyboard and vocals as the band’s virtual lead singer 2-D.
The track takes a mellow tone that incorporates modified, synthetic tones that the band is known for to create a pseudo-lo-fi styled experience.
As the only vocalist for the track, Albarn is free to lead the track where he wants as 2-D, but this opportunity was not taken to its full potential.
Albarn can have strong, powerful vocals despite his more reserved tonality. Even with his softer voice, Albarn knows how to deliver it in a way that is powerful and confident, seen in some of Gorillaz firsts tracks like “Clint Eastwood” and “19-2000.”
It is a shame that the vocals stick to the softer, hushed and listless singing that is usually seen in Gorillaz tracks that feature a more powerful guest artist.
“Aries” features short verses that does not last more than six lines and only features the chorus twice. However, the chorus is not anything that stands out either as it is composed entirely of repetitions of the phrase “high tide” and “feels like I’m falling in, again.”
The chorus is also where Peter Hook’s bass line is supposed to stand out more as he is listed as being featured in the chorus in the official lyrics layout, but the bass line simply gets mixed in with the cacophony of the rest of the instrumental.
At least Hook’s bass line gets an opportunity to try and stand out.
In comparison, Georgia’s drum contributions that stand out so little throughout the song that it brings into question why she was even featured on the track to begin with.
It is a shame how the song turned out as “Aries” had so much potential with how much producing and musical intellect was behind it.
The lyrical content itself had potential as well, describing 2-D’s experience falling back in with “aries”– a commonly used street name for heroin.
Neither of the featuring artists stand out much.
This is a normal Gorillaz sound style and Albarn fails to take the opportunity for his vocals to shine.
The track is more reminiscent of the variation of the font featured on the lackluster synthetic album “The Fall,” which was created and composed almost entirely on Albarn’s iPad during the band’s 2010 tour.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that has enacted social distancing policies and working remotely from home, Gorillaz has made it clear that they will continue with the “Song Machine” initiative and release new tracks in the near feature.
With time and ability to reach out and communicate with more talent, perhaps the isolation will be an opportunity for Gorillaz to put more work, thought and talent into upcoming “Song Machine” tracks.