A word of caution to the 20 diehard Gorillaz fans who have held on since the "cartoon band" debuted four years ago: Blur's Damon Albarn is the only contributor to return for Demon Days. While the same fictional characters fill the liner notes, every real-life musician has been replaced, and DJ Danger Mouse of The Grey Album takes on the unfortunate task of following Dan the Automator as Gorillaz's mastermind and producer. At least he got two songs right: "Dirty Harry"'s stuttering organ, slow beat, and hard-edged rap by Pharcyde's Booty Brown create a catchy answer to the last album's dub-smash "Clint Eastwood," while "Feel Good Inc." stands out because it's the only track on Demon that steps out of Automator's shadow. A few other songs have catchy moments, and Albarn again proves his vocal versatility, but Danger Mouse wastes too much time trying (and failing) to copy the punk- and rock-influenced hip-hop style of debut Gorillaz. As a result, all the humor and fun of the last album have been wrung dry. My advice? Add the two singles to your computer playlist and leave the rest of Demon on iTunes.
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