Gorillaz’s first musical release in six years is, frankly, a little unsettling.
The majority of the video consists of a close up shot of Benjamin Clementine, while a variety of video clips ranging from cartoonish to outright strange play in the background behind him. In one clip, a killer clown with a large prop hammer runs down a hall toward the camera, while in another, a man shakily plays the theremin. Clementine isn’t fully illuminated: Dark, dramatic shadows play over his face as he sings, lending a somber, slightly ominous feeling to the video.
Clementine’s raw performance is critical to the sensation of the video, and he does a great job playing his role as the focal point. The captivating lull of his voice and the magnetizing, almost maniacal passion of his facial expressions fully immerse the viewer into the dream like quality of the piece. The result is distinctively hypnotic: As Clementine stares, wide eyed, through the screen, it’s almost as if he sees straight into the soul of the viewer. At the same time, it’s impossible to look away. Something about his face is disturbingly entrancing.
This all wraps up with a cacophonous buildup; the steady beat of the song quickly picks up speed until the instrumentals are so frenzied that they resemble buzzing white noise, Clementine’s voice becomes a high pitched keen, and the background switches to a dizzying spread of flashing stars. The chaos is so great that it’s almost difficult for the mind to process what’s happening, a sentiment that is echoed in the song’s deep, metaphor heavy lyrics. A clip of Spongebob crying plays right before the video ends, adding an odd humor to the otherwise serious tone.
The most striking lyrics in the song come from Gorillaz frontman 2D himself, during the bridge: “When the morning comes / We are still human / How will we know? / How will we dream? / How will we love?” The questions posed encourage listeners to think harder about the critical qualities that make us human, especially in light of the current political atmosphere.
Its weirdness is its best aspect. By embracing the abnormal, it reminds us that discomfort about something means it should be given more acknowledgment, not that it should be hidden out of sight. The video is a worthwhile watch, if not for the mindset it encourages then for its unique traits as an artistic accomplishment.