So cranky genius Damon Albarn has told Britain’s NME that Gorillaz, the cartoon band dreamed up by himself and animator Jamie Hewlett, will not release another studio album, ever. That’s not news, exactly — Albarn’s been muttering similarly ominous things for months — but it’s the most solid announcement he’s made yet, and it certainly made this fan’s heart fall. I loved Gorillaz when they debuted in 2001 with a bunch of silly, dubbed-out ditties (plus a killer video or two). The dark, ruminative style that Albarn et al grew into on their 2005 follow-up wowed me even more. I’d been looking forward to the next step in those pseudo simians’ evolution as eagerly as anything in pop music’s future, and now it looks like it’ll never come.
Or won’t it? As my animated tears began to dry, three distinct upsides to this latest announcement revealed themselves:
- The movie. Rumors have been floating around for years that Albarn and Hewlett want to take Gorillaz’ shtick to the big screen; noted madcap (and former Monty Python animator) Terry Gilliam has been mentioned as a possible director. That would be an absolutely inspired choice, and the NME story does nothing to discount it. In fact, it explicitly indicates that Albarn and Hewlett are proceeding with their plan to make a full-length Gorillaz film, though there’s no confirmation of Gilliam’s involvement (yet). Best of all,the movie would reportedly come with an original score — in other words, another Gorillaz album after all!
- The whim. Albarn created Gorillaz, and Albarn can whisk them off the face of the earth whenever he so pleases. We’ve recently been reminded of the negative side of this arrangement, but think of the positive: Sure, right now Albarn says Gorillaz are through, but what happens when he changes his mind? Since he’s the only musician necessary to make another Gorillaz album, none of the usual barriers to defunct bands reuniting — monetary squabbles or personality clashes between ex-members — exist here. That makes a Gorillaz breakup essentially meaningless. Give him a few years to recharge his batteries and dabble in another brilliant side project or two, and maybe he’ll wake up and decide to resurrect Gorillaz after all. We can wait.
- The wild card. If Albarn follows through on his promise to end Gorillaz for good after their movie, that will be too bad. But there is one thing that his fans want even more than another Gorillaz album, something we hardly dare to dream of in our most hopeful moments— namely, another Blur album. The band that first shot Albarn to stardom dissolved in 2003 after releasing the bizarrely maligned Think Tank, which I count among their most rewarding CDs. Unlike Gorillaz, however, a Blur reunion would face an obstacle much bigger than Albarn’s legendary stubbornness: Guitarist Graham Coxon left the band on very bad terms, and for years he made it sound as if he wouldn’t rejoin them if they were the last Britpoppers on earth. But the last few month shave seen several tantalizing hints that Coxon’s relationship with his former bandmates might have thawed. If Albarn’s grown bored with Gorillaz, maybe he’s finally ready to put all his energy into bringing the old gang back together again. And if there’s even a distant chance that that’s why he made his most recent statements, I’m willing to suspend my mourning altogether.
What about you, PopWatchers? Will you miss Gorillaz, or does this just get you psyched for the possibility of a Blur reunion — or do you even care what Damon Albarn does next?