Updated: Feb 23
A concept album is a compilation of songs written by a musical artist or a band that is based around a central theme or concept. These themes can be compositional, lyrical, instrumental, or narrative. The term 'concept album' is majorly applied to rock and popular music albums made from the 1940s onward, containing a centralizing theme. This is different from non-concept albums which are stand-alone, unrelated tracks. Although the songs in a concept album can be listened to individually, it would make more sense to hear them in the given sequence or a group altogether. Pink Floyd's The Wall and The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band are some of the ideal examples of a concept album.
Damon Alborn, the co-founder of the band Gorillaz, had intended for their second studio album to be a concept album, with the central theme revolving around things that he feared very much. Demon days was released in 2005 worldwide by the virtual band, Gorillaz. So Gorillaz is an alternative band that, with the help of an animator, made another band within their band, named "Gorillaz", who were a band from space. Yes, it sounds confusing, but I'm sure you'll get it after being familiar with their songs. After the release of their first album, the co-creators Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett were eager to prove that they were not just a gimmick, although Demon days' main genres incline more towards hip hop and pop, there are fine traces of art-rock throughout the album. Demon Days has Damon Albarn as the lead singer, artist Jamie Hewlett, 2-D for vocals and keyboard, Murdoc Niccals for bass, Noodle for backup vocals and guitar, and Russel for drums.
The song very appropriately introduces us to the whole, dark theme of the album. "You are now entering the harmonic realm" simply denotes that we are now about to enter some harmonic realm, which is existing in space. To me, the track sounds like some horror or thriller film is about to start.
II. Last living souls
Albarn asks us here if we are the last living souls and he answers the question at the end of the song. Maybe he fears that we are the last souls or last generation to feel happiness, love and togetherness. He feels that killing people is not an answer to everything and that people should be more sympathetic. This underrated beauty has an amazing bridge with an acoustic guitar and beautiful piano.
III. Kids with guns
This was inspired by an incident when one of the classmates of Albarn's daughter brought a knife to the class. Into this new apocalyptic world, the kids possess guns, knives, and prefer violence above everything, with a chorus to justify that. Guitar and bass dominate the whole song, with an instrumental outro, which is probably the best outro in the album.
IV. O green world
The singer is in a post-apocalyptic world, wishing to go to a lush, green place that he has never been to. The intro sounds chaotic with too many instruments brought in together, as opposed to the previous song. Also, this is probably my least favourite song from the album.
V. Dirty Harry
The intro grows onto me, with a powerful bassline that remains consistent in the instrumental breaks. Taking on a theme similar to Kids with guns, it says why violence is becoming so extensive in today's society. It has a funky beat and the kids from the San Fernandez Youth Chorus uplift the meaning and the emotions behind the lyrics.
VI. Feel good inc.
This song is the most popular song from the album, starts with killer bass and is prominent in the song. The narrative that goes around in the song is to what extent people can go to make them feel good about themselves. The song appears to throw light on the hazier side of delights like addictions and habits, yet the chorus comes in and says to quit pondering what causes you to feel good and attempt to cherish others to cause them to feel better. In the end, it's love that makes the world go around.
VII. El mañana
El mañana in Spanish means "the future" or "near the future". This song is on the softer side of the album, yet has a catchy beat. The lyrics add to the bleak theme of the song, which talks about the summer being gone and how summer is considered to be the time of being gleeful.
VIII. Every Planet We Reach Is Dead
Here, the lyricist presumably talks of a lover, but the relationship does not go well and uses vivid imagery and figurative language to make this clear. The song is so SO much put together with the electric guitar, the electric bass, the synths, and the slow and chill drum beat in the first two verses, followed by grand trumpets come for a short time after the third verse and the late Ike Turner plays a marvellous piano solo.
IX. November has come
This one features the late British-American rapper, MF DOOM. Not going to lie but the beat is not as awesome as some of their other songs, but the bass in the background and DOOM's rap make it a unique one.
X. All alone
All alone starts as a hip-hop tune and the slick verse of Roots Manuva support 2-D's dark lyrics.
XI. White light
The song features a fast-paced theme with drums supported by a sick bassline. The repetition of the word "alcohol" shows the excessive amount of alcohol consumed and white light being the angels you see when you're dying due to too much intoxication.
The vocals are great and work well with the synths and the drum beats. They are by the female of the fiction band Gorillaz, Noodle, singing most of it. The tune of the song is indifferent to any other Gorillaz song, yet it has a danceable beat.
XIII. Fire Coming out of Monkey's Head
Although the message given is the song is very important, this is one of my least favourite songs on the album because it is Dennis Hopper narrating a story with 2D singing in-between.
XIV. Don't get lost in heaven
This tells us about people trying to get into heaven but being locked out from there. The chords of the song are smooth and nice. Just the whole musical demeanour is very different to all the songs on the album and it feels like that now the album is coming to an end. They have realised how much of a horrible place they live in and now it is time to change it.
XV. Demon Days
Demon Days at this point represents the thought of waking up. We get going with the violins playing and 2D's energized vocals. Later on, the gospel ensemble begins singing what 2D was singing. The music behind the scenes emits to some degree a reggae vibe, which we saw some of in stage one yet very little in stage two. With words like " pick yourself up it's a brand-new day," this tune consistently gives me an inclination towards hope.
Demon Days is one of my favourite albums because it very precisely explains the kind of world, we live in. It paints a picture of various global issues like terrorism, war on oil, pollution, escapism, alcohol, drugs and so much more. The whole album is like a journey through an apocalypse. You can get a better idea about the album and its theme by watching the music videos available on YouTube. Throughout the album, I can feel the urge in 2D's voice to make the world a better place and he still has hope left for that. Gorillaz chooses to propagate the world's problems in all their abstractness by this wonderful masterpiece. So, what are you waiting for? Go put your headphones on and listen to Demon Days right away.