tue 16/01/2018

CD: Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots

CD: Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots

Britpop renaissance man gets personal on his solo debut

More focus, less Blur

Was Britpop really two whole decades ago? As rumours fly around about an Oasis Glastonbury reunion, Noel’s nemesis Damon Albarn has certainly not stood still. After Mandarin opera, world music and fronting a cartoon band among other things, he has finally found time for his debut solo album. Everyday Robots is hardly likely to challenge Parklife in the sales department or receive retrospectives in 2034, but it is a strikingly memorable, strangely melancholy work.

The tone from the start is distinctly mellow. Nothing jumps out at you but it all seeps in on repeated listens. This is hot summer’s day music – most notably "Hollow Ponds", which was, it turns out, inspired by the long hot summer of 1976. Elsewhere snatches of what sounds like sampled film dialogue evoke the spirit of Big Audio Dynamite but none of their rock and roll bombast. There a whiff of Bowie as there is on most great British music, though interestingly it is the wistfulness of his most recent album that springs to mind. This is a release full of intriguing ripples, from the tinkly "Mr Tembo" about a baby elephant to "Selfish Giant" and its reflections on losing the sizzle of romance in middle years.

The centrepiece is the sadly beautiful seven-minute "You & Me", an enigmatic sound-picture of the past, which features the chug of trains, namechecks All Saints Road and lobs in a reference to chasing the dragon ("tin foil and a lighter, the ship across"). These are songs of experience, songs of survival. It is a tribute to producer Richard Russell that there seems to be an overarching theme and style, as apparently Albarn turned up with around a hundred ideas to whittle down. Don’t come to Everyday Robots expecting a solo Blur album. This is so woozily laid back it makes Blur's "Tender" seem like Motorhead’s "Ace of Spades". But get through it, the effort will definitely pay dividends.

These are songs of experience, songs of survival

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Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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