The cast of characters includes Kid Koala, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien (as Russel, the heavyset drummer possessed by funky phantom rappers), Cibo Matto's Miho Hatori (as Noodle, a ten-year-old martial arts expert and guitarist), cult cartoonist Hewlett (as Murdoc, bassist and Satan-worshiping mastermind of the group), and Albarn (as 2D, the spacey but cute singer-keyboardist) and is produced by Dan "the Automator" Nakamura. With influences ranging from Jamaican dub to American hip-hop, London punk, and dance, Gorillaz, on their self-titled debut album, are not afraid to demonstrate their playfulness and passion for experimentation. An added surprise is the contribution of Buena Vista Social Club's Ibrahim Ferrer on the Cuban love song "Latin Simone."
There's a dark element to Gorillaz, but the band's gleeful spirits shine through, especially on its first single, "Clint Eastwood." The infectious song features 2D's slurred voice interrupted by Russel's rhymes, a bluesy harmonica, and hopeful message: "I ain't happy, I'm feeling glad/I got sunshine, in a bag/I'm useless, but not for long/The future is coming on." Could this be the future of manufactured pop bands? Let's hope so.