New Gorillaz EP ‘Meanwhile’ is a Celebration of London’s Notting Hill Carnival
Top-shelf vodka certainly helped – but admittedly, there were few genuinely reliable pleasures during the last eighteen months of pandemic stress and anxiety. But here and there beacons of musical light did help to keep us from totally bouncing off the walls – and if there was one specifically and especially, it was most definitely Gorillaz.
Indeed, it really has seemed as though our favorite “virtual” band has been busier than the CDC since last March, much of which we documented this past December in a story recounting their considerable 2020 prolificness. And now with the Second Summer of COVID coming to a close, they’ve seen fit to grace us with the new three song EP Meanwhile, which earnestly celebrates London’s 55-years-running Notting Hill Carnival, the biggest Caribbean vibed street festival in the world – and where Gorillaz first performed ‘Clint Eastwood’ all the way back in 2000. It was cancelled again this year after being shut down by the virus in 2020, but carried on this past weekend in a scaled-down, “alternative” form.
As usual, the EP is a collaborative project, with Alicaì Harley guesting on ‘Déjà Vu’, and AJ Tracey on ‘Jimmy Jimmy’. But it’s the title track that we’ve had on endless repeat, a moody but sultry slice of Caribe flavored urban pop, featuring dancehall icon Barrington Levy, and up-and-coming West London rapper Jelani Blackman. The lyrics are a kind of existential meditation on the Carnival experience.
“Hey, I don’t mind change / I don’t like hate (Nah)
See when the sound system break / We make the system shake (Bully)
When a girl wanna swing my way / Play street with the street that I played”
There’s even a shout out to Jamaican brew Red Stripe, a regular sponsor of the festivities.
No surprise, Gorillaz frontman 2D has a snarky explanation for the EP’s title. “Meanwhile Gardens are just round the corner from Memory Lane. If you get to Crawley you’ve gone too far.”
We checked, and Crawley – the far London suburb that birthed The Cure back in 1978 – is actually about 34 miles from Notting Hill. So yes, if you come across the sign…definitely turn back.