Album Review: Gorillaz “Cracker Island” is marvelously mediocre


Photo from

The lyricism in “Cracker Island” by Gorillaz is what really brings the album to life.

Naamah Silcott

In a bittersweet world, Gorillaz’s eighth album “Cracker Island” leaves listeners wondering about the moral decay of modern society. Although the music does its job, sung chiefly by the main vocalist Damon Albarn and a handful of other artists, the lyricism is what really brings this album to life.

The collection of 10 songs comes out to about 37 minutes, with six of the tracks featuring at least one other artist. When it comes to Albarn and much of his music, your attention is demanded but left with enough breathing room to absorb the mix of synth electro-pop. However, with this album, I was left feeling lukewarm. 

A few of the better songs on this album include “New Gold” featuring Tame Impala and Bootie Brown, “Oil” featuring Stevie Nicks and “Skinny Ape.” Normally I would argue about why “Skinny Ape’s” heavy-hitting technofunk or “New Gold’s” nostalgic drawl are good things but none of these songs match the rest of the album at all. 

The other seven songs on this album have an empty weight to them, similar to the feelings that come with anxiety. The three songs that do stand out feel entirely out of place and cause the rest of the album to feel half-heartedly thrown together. “The Tired Influencer” is easily one of the most forgettable songs of the album but should’ve been the highlight of it with the lyricism found within. The lyrics are a powerful reflection of the state the world is in right now regarding the digital aspects of it and the toll it takes on the people that use it. Regardless, the music is disappointing and that means much of the audience that ends up listening to this album will miss the message that comes with it.

The featured artists on this album are all incredible separately but thrown together they create a jumbled mess of energies that don’t complement each other at all. Most of them feel like an extra pillar needed to keep the album held up, with “Tormenta” feeling like a Bad Bunny song released on a Gorillaz album. “New Gold” does a better job of handling artists’ appearances, with Tame Impala and Bootie Brown being the main vocalists on the song but not overpowering Gorillaz’s trademark sound. The song redeems the album but doesn’t save it in the end.

At the end of the less-than-engaging list of songs, “Possession Island” somehow manages to tie the poorly wrapped album together. The duet between Beck and Albarn is melancholy and the direct opposite of “Skinny Ape,” which comes before it. I’m conflicted about this being the ending song because it lets the album down gently but doesn’t provide the punch I normally expect from a Gorillaz album.

“Cracker Island” took me a couple of listens before I got to a place where I somewhat enjoyed it. There is definitely potential for it to be great but every time I try to listen to it the dissatisfaction that creeps in by the third song tells me it’s not going to sound any better than bland, no matter how many times I listen to it.