The Singles Collection: 2001-2011

Is Damon Albarn's "virtual band" the greatest British hip-hop act ever? This best-of makes a pretty strong argument for it – not that the competition is all that stiff. Gorillaz have made happy-hour dance pop from less-than-happy sources: quirky boho rap, dub's mordant, cotton-mouthed throb and wistful Kinks-y singing. From the funked-up mumblings of "Feel Good Inc" to the ghostly disco of "DARE" to the funky consumerism satire "Superfast Jellyfish" to the forlorn synth pop of "On Melancholy Hill," they're as obsessed with techno-alienation as Radiohead but with a hey-whatever sense of freedom amid chaos. After all, when your band doesn't actually exist, maybe the apocalypse isn't such a big deal.

From The Archives Issue 1145: December 8, 2011