Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez is the seventh studio album by British virtual band Gorillaz, released on 23 October 2020. The album was released as part of the Gorillaz Song Machine project, a collection of singles and music videos, dubbed "episodes" each featuring previously unannounced guests, and has incorporated a wide range of genres, thus far including punk rock, bossa nova, synth-pop, electronic, and downtempo. The album also marked the return of Murdoc Niccals, since his absence from The Now Now in 2018.
It's one of the best albums I've ever made. It’s really strong because every tune has that single intention to it. To make an album of singles is such a rigorous pursuit you don't normally do it – but accidentally, we have.
~ Damon Albarn
Song Machine began production in summer of 2019, with Momentary Bliss being the first single and episode produced. Song Machine tracks eventually became an album, but this was not Albarn and Hewlett's original intention and they initially wanted Song Machine to be an episodic series of singles. Older guest artists were mainly chosen by Albarn and Hewlett and younger guests were chosen by Gorillaz' drummer Remi Kabaka Jr. The songs up to Pac-Man were made in Studio 13 at different times, independently from each other. Song Machine's production was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with work on the series continuing to be done remotely through e-mails and Zoom sessions. Strange Timez was the first song and episode made during lockdown. Damon stated that the tracks like The Pink Phantom or MLS were mainly shaped by the remote production and couldn't have possibly been made the same way in a studio. Approximately half of the album was created after COVID-19 pandemic started.
Upon its release, Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez peaked at number 2 on the UK Albums Chart and 12 on the US Billboard 200, and received generally positive reviews from critics.
Momentary Bliss - US Hot Rock & Alternative Song #3