Gorillaz Credit: J.C. Hewlett

Since breaking out in the 90s as front man of Brit-pop powerhouse Blur, Damon Albarn has turned into the rare rock star who’s unable to make a bad record—but that doesn’t mean everything he’s done has been great. As the wizard pulling the levers behind the curtain of Gorillaz, Albarn has managed to gift the animated cartoon rock band with a consistent, sometimes affecting hip-hop-inflected pop sound through a series of albums made with different Frankensteinian supergroups. Gorillaz cast a large shadow on the real-world music festival circuit, and though the group’s artfully rendered, anime-influenced personas beget bigness, they could’ve cut back a bit on their new fifth album, Humanz (Warner/Parlophone). Lugubrious and lethargic, Humanz carries all the world-weariness Gorillaz brought to their previous work, just without the quixotic exuberance. There are bright spots, like when Long Beach all-star Vince Staples pumps life into the all-too-brief “Ascension,” but too often the contributors’ talents feel wasted. It’s a shame, especially considering Humanz gathers stars from Chicago pop history including Mavis Staples, Jamie Principle, and the Twilite Tone.   v