This track is the usual Gorillaz forte. With a driving hip-hop backbeat and an eclectic electro tune wrapped around, Damon Albarn seems to be flexing an R&B inspired muscle through his melodic delivery. The song features an appearance from D.R.A.M. and Albarn has described the attached album by saying “simply put, we’re in transition, we’re turning into something else.”
He described the album as a party, club record and Andromeda is certainly reflective of that. The track could be described to be on Melancholy Hill‘s dance cousin.
Lyrically, it comes off as a cryptic love song with lines such as “When the passing looks to die for/ Take it in your heart now love her/ When the case is out/And you’re tired and sodden/ Take it in your heart/ Take it in your heart.” However, it could be said that Andromeda reflects the recent wave and rise of populist politics that has swept the Western world.
Visually, the video for Andromeda seems rather repetitive, but, if you were to look at it from a political populist reflection it does begin to make sense. The planet which the viewer is shown begins life as a normal, bland brown colour. However, when an asteroid of light strikes the planet, it turns to an array of colours. Take from that what you will. The video does follow the lyrics same cryptic nature.
In the post apocalyptic world of Ascension, Vince Staples takes the reigns to spit verse after verse of commentary on the society that the U.S. has morphed itself into today as he preaches, “Police everywhere/ It’s like a nigga killed a white man…All these liberated women sitting in my lap/ I’m finna catch a body like I got a gun and badge/ I’m finna turn Obama to my patna ‘fore he dash/ Pull up to his pad, wipe my ass with the flag/ I’m just playing, baby, this the land of the free/ Where you can get a Glock and a gram for the cheap/ Where you can live your dreams long as you don’t look like me/ Be a puppet on a string, hanging from a fucking tree.”
Albarn has described the creating of this record by saying “the album kind of came from this dark fantasy. Just imagine, the weirdest, most unpredictable thing that changes everything in the world. How would you feel on that night? Would you go and get drunk? Would you stay at home? Just watch TV? Would you talk to people?”
Well, on this track Albarn and Staples definitely nailed that concept down. Ironically, Albarn also said on U.K.’s BBC Radio 1 that “I suppose we were imagining the idea of Donald Trump. It’s not about Donald Trump at all. But it was imagining that in a way. That was our dark fantasy, and unfortunately that became our reality.” Ascension is certainly a good example of this unfortunate happy accident as it hits social issues in the U.S. head on.
We Got The Power
Simply, We Got The Power is in many respects is a song about life. The video pictures a scene reminiscent of the infamous L.A. 24 hour traffic jams which Albarn commented on in the writing of his solo work Everyday Robots in 2014.
Lyrically, the song is rings a bell of inspiration as the opening verse calls out, “They dream of home/ I dream of life out of here/ Their dreams are small/ My dreams don’t know fear/ (I got all you)/ I got my heart full of hope/ I will change everything/ No matter what I’m told/ Or how impossible it seems.”
And here’s a piece of trivia for you all. The closed highway featured in the video is the same one featured in the video of 19-2000.
With Saturnz Barz, there’s a return to the post apocalyptic world of Ascension. As matter of fact, Murdoc is even playing the song as he drives up to a house that looks remarkably like the infamous Bates Motel from Psycho.
As the video moves on we end up back in the celestial universe of Andromeda as the band members are haunted by the ghoulish inhabitants of the house, oddly vocalised by Popcaan.
Popcaan does send an interesting autobiographical message in this song. “Cho/
All my life/ Mi ever have mi gun so mi haffi move sharp like mi knife.” Although this isn’t the most easily translated message, Popcaan talks about his ruthlessly aggressive strategy to life, but having to rethink himself. Rather, having this power necessitated a more tedious and complex approach; thinking and moving with quick and discerning intellect. Someone who uses these traits is often referred to as being ‘sharp’, similar to the point of a knife.
“The system force mi/ Fi be a killer just like Rodney Price.” This line is a play on words: Rodney Price is a Jamaican DJ and Dancehall artist who goes by the stage name Bounty Killer. “Saturnz Barz” is heavily influenced by this sort of Jamaican genre.
Popcaan’s lines comment on the oppressive system in society that forces many people like him to be killers just to get by in life.
As Gorillaz decided to make a bold move to release four tracks at once, it leaves you pondering whether it was a move of confidence or an attempt to throw mud until it sticks. Some tracks here such as Andromeda do have an air of party club musts such as On Melancholy Hill has become. But, others such as Ascension fail to grab the listener’s attention properly.
The album will feature both a standard track listing and a deluxe listing which is attached below:
01. Ascension (feat. Vince Staples)
02. Strobelite (feat. Peven Everett)
03. Saturnz Barz (feat. Popcaan)
04. Momentz (feat. De La Soul)
05. Submission (feat. Danny Brown & Kelela)
06. Charger (feat. Grace Jones)
07. Andromeda (feat. D.R.A.M.)
08. Busted and Blue
09. Carnival (feat. Anthony Hamilton)
10. Let Me Out (feat. Mavis Staples & Pusha T)
11. Sex Murder Party (feat. Jamie Principle & Zebra Katz)
12. She’s My Collar (feat. Kali Uchis)
13. Hallelujah Money (feat. Benjamin Clementine)
14. We Got The Power (feat. Noel Gallagher and Jehnny Beth)
Deluxe edition bonus tracks:
15. The Apprentice (feat. Rag’n’bone Man, Zebra Katz & Ray BLK)
16. Halfway To The Halfway House (feat. Peven Everett)
17. Out Of Body (feat. Kilo Kish, Zebra Katz & Imani Voshana
18. Ticker Tape (feat. Carly Simon & Kali Uchis)
19. Circle Of Friendz (feat. Brandon Markell Holmes)