LP  Review

Originally appearing in Turkey’s Multicultural Guide, Sean Bw Parker‘s review of Damon Albarn‘s wanton mid-life requiem, Everyday Robots, was too good to be held back from a wider international audience. Here then, is Parker’s eloquently prosed verdict.

 

Damon Albarn  ‘Everyday Robots’  (Warner Bros.) 28th April 2014

Which Damon Albarn do you like? The lively, Technicolor pop songwriter responsible for Blur’s ‘There’s No Other Way’, ‘For Tomorrow’ or ‘Parklife’? The melancholic, wistful balladeer behind ‘Sing’, ‘This Is A Low’ or The Good, The Bad and The Queen? Or maybe the avant-garde, seemingly-ADD pioneer of sound behind Gorillaz, Mali Music or Doctor Dee?

Everyday Robots represents a summing up of all the facets of Alban’s musical personality, while trying its damnedest to reveal the man himself too. The former is a resounding, mature success, and the latter debatable depending on your stance of what soul-bearing means. Since Albarn sang ‘It’s not my fault, you made me this way’ on Blur’s The Great Escape nearly two decades ago, it’s been clear that he defines himself as a reflection of culture, as opposed to a distinct entity in himself. Damon has always seemed something of a postmodern result.

The album is of course exquisitely written, arranged and produced; cleaning up Albarn’s constant desire to avoid over-production, seen on his first debut offering’ ‘Democrazy’. ‘…Robots’ is a very seductive late-night Sunday companion, offering you a small glass of west London sherry before curling up to watch fantasised copulation and beheadings on Game Of Thrones. Very Albarn, that.

On tracks such as ‘You and Me’ and ‘Hollow Ponds’, he tries to delve into his past, with sepia-tinged, misty results. If ‘13’ was his break-up album (with Elastica’s then heroine-addled Justine Frischmann), then this one is his break-up album with postmodern life. Damon Albarn has walked away with resigned bewilderment, expressed well on the title track and also the forlorn-yet-comforting ‘Lonely, Press Play’. The album’s near hour drifts by in a fog bank of sad piano, gentle acoustic guitar and American film voice samples. Spirits are raised when the lovely ‘Mr Tembo’, a song about a baby elephant, rears its sunny, afro-funk pop head and takes us into jolly ‘Graceland’ territory, replete with gospel choir.

No more a boy, now a man, Damon Albarn steps forward from his bands, projects and travels, and takes a gentle, mature, confident bow – whilst admitting that even he simply presses play when he gets lonely.

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