I am a huge fan of Gorillaz, since I first saw the video of Clint Eastwood on Tv when I was still in school I fell in love with Hewlett's depiction of a virtual band. It was only until Demon Days that I felt the music built up to the same standard as the imagination behind these bold grimacing figures. Demon Days had the perfect harmony of quirky pop which echoed the personalities that had been portrayed within the figures. In a world of hundreds of bands posing in gloomy situations to portray the aura of their band, what better than tranferring that to create an overall more exciting and creative outcome that stands out over everyone.
But in the press for the new album it seems that Albarn and Hewlett seem to be killing off these Cartoon counterparts who represented the face of the band. The majority of the teaser footage showed just the "Plastic Beach". The concept of the album showing that half of the band aren't even present, with Russell the drummer not being depicted in anything, and Noodle being replaced by a robot. these are still cartoon-like properties but then it's enhanced even more by the remaining characters being hunted down by real-life figures in the video for Stylo.
The upcoming live dates push this even further with the live appearances on Tv lately showing an obviously real-life band with Damon very obviously being the frontman. There seems to be no creativity in portrayal which was shown in the live shows previous in which Albarn was hidden as a silhouette. The press video promoting the live dates even shows the band being denied entry onto the stage and in a surprisingly sinister moment replaced by Albarn and his group of sailors walking up to play.
The music really has come into it's own and I can see that this might seem to them that it can overcome the appearance they've created before but I feel the characters give the music an otherworldly feel. I don't want to listen to a Gorillaz album and think of Albarn singing it, I want to imagine a cartoon band performing it. Its a rare achievement they've made by forming this universe round some really innovative pop. I can't see myself warming to a band that are just a real life band in the case of Gorillaz. They have a spark and it could be lost if they shrug the cartoon members off.
what does anyone else think? Am I being slightly paranoid or missing something here? Being an illustrator myself partly holds a soft spot with them but it can't just be me that sees it as a fun infinitely more imaginative way of portraying it than "Damon Albarn and all his mates"?