April 25, 2014, Posted by Tom in Album Reviews, Music
Pretty much everything Damon Albarn has touched throughout his career has turned to gold.
Whilst many of his Britpop contemporaries have faded away or become pale imitations of their former glorious selves, Mr Albarn has kept on innovating. Whether it’s with Gorillaz, writing operas, teaming up with Paul Simonon from The Clash, producing for legends like Bobby Womack, or getting the old band back together, he’s always been one step ahead of the rest.
So it’s a bit of a surprise that he’s taken so long to bring out a proper solo album. It’s quite lucky then that it’s been worth the wait.
Everyday Robots is a bittersweet, subtle and beautiful album. It’s not one that gets in your face, but one that takes a few listens to really hit home. You’ve probably heard the singles ‘Everyday Robots’ (with creepy spinning head video), ‘Lonely Press Play’ and ‘Heavy Seas of Love’, and it’s fair to say that if you like these songs, you’ll love the rest of the album.
There’s a sense of melancholia running throughout Everyday Robots, as is often the case with Albarn’s work. The main exception here is ‘Mr. Tembo’, a song about and for an elephant he met at a zoo in Tanzania. Featuring uplifting vocals from The Leytonstone City Mission Choir, it’s a real contrast to the rest of the album, but doesn’t feel out of place.
However, for a solo album, the lyrics here are perhaps not as revealing about their creator as they could have been. Most of the depth comes from the melodies, rather than the words, and you don’t come away feeling like you know Albarn any better. As a whole, it seems that, despite the quirky samples and interesting grooves, Mr Albarn has played things rather safe here. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing when the songs are this good.
If you’re a fan of any of Damon Albarn’s previous projects (who isn’t?) then this is an album you’re going to want to hear, and, whilst not as groundbreaking or original as some of his back catalogue, it definitely rewards repeated listens.
Lonely Press Play
Mr. Tembo (featuring. The Leytonstone City Mission Choir)
The Selfish Giant (featuring. Natasha Khan)
You and Me (featuring. Brian Eno)
Photographs (You are Taking Now)
The History of a Cheating Heart
Heavy Seas of Love