Returning a month after their previous single, “Momentary Bliss,” Gorillaz released their newest song “Désolé” on Feb. 27.
The second single from the “Song Machine” initiative, “Désolé,” features Malian actor and singer Fatoumata Diawara.
Gorillaz creator Damon Albarn and Diawara had previously worked together on Albarn’s project “Rocket Juice and the Moon.”
The track also marks one of the few times that the group has produced a song heavily featuring lyrics in another language, with the most notable other example being “Latin Simone.”
The song starts off with a minute-long extended instrumental, accompanied by a few interjections scattered about by 2-D (Damon Albarn).
As the main vocals begin, it is refreshing to hear Albarn back in the spotlight after being pushed to the side for “Momentary Bliss.”
Albarn’s vocals as 2-D are as smooth and calm as before, but this time they feel much more at home when overlaid on the soft beats and acoustic guitar.
The verse is also the first time where Diawara appears on the track, accompanying 2-D when singing the pantoum “ Désolé,” a French word for “sorry.”
Diawara is almost unheard while singing this repeated word, but certainly forges her own path when arriving on the verse.
The higher vocals can be jarring at first, as Diawara’s mezzo-soprano voice contrasts with the lower register of 2-D and the instrumental.
However, once the initial line is out of the way, the vocals begin to find themselves at home in the track, becoming better incorporated into the overall tone as the listener starts to anticipate the higher notes.
The track continues its near-ambient tone before a breakdown of the trumpets that were previously only accompanying in the instrumental.
The end of the breakdown becomes irritating as it is unstructured and feels as though it is included for the sake of having a “quirky Gorillaz breakdown” in the song.
Fortunately, the breakdown is short-lived before picking up with another verse.
This time, the instrumentation is hushed and quiet, allowing the string instruments and piano to shine through under the vocals.
As the verse ends, the strings swell into a lovely transition for the chorus to take place, in which Diawara changes keys, once again allowing the backing track to blend well with the vocalists.
The song closes out with the guitar and the soft pantoums from Diawara and 2-D that fade out with the last guitar notes.
While the song can feel a bit repetitive at times from the repition of “ Désolé”, the track is definitely a step up in quality from is predecessor.
Repetition in music, when done right, is something that can add to the tone of the song and allow for ease of listening.
Gorillaz is no stranger to repetition whether in tone, verse or composition.
But in Gorillaz case, the repetition in makes it feel like a song that the group would have released much earlier in their career with other hits off of the “Demon Days” or “Plastic Beach” albums.
While nothing superb, “Désolé” certainly took a step back in terms of sound font for the band – a step back in the right direction.