Design By Humans
Published On: Fri, May 30th, 2014

Damon Albarn: Everyday Robots

damon aDamon Albarn
Everyday Robots
(Parlophone Records)

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Few artists have established résumés as diverse as Damon Albarn’s. The Blur frontman has gone from writing cheeky middle class tales to working with such diverse bands as Gorillaz, scoring films and plays, and championing African music. With Everyday Robots, Albarn is finally able to put his own name on a group of songs that combine his varied interests. The album is subtle but layered, and the lyrics are personal without always being specific. Still, it doesn’t feel like Albarn is holding back. Every choice, from the pronounced beats to Albarn’s melancholy delivery, feels perfectly honed.

“It’s hard to be a lover when the TV’s on and nothing’s in your eyes,” Albarn declares on “The Selfish Giant.” Though he wanted to leave the line out of the song, it’s this sort of brutal honesty that runs as an undercurrent through Everyday Robots. Now in his forties, Albarn is writing from a different place than he did in his younger years. There are competing diversions described in other songs, such as cell phones (“Everyday Robots”). Albarn doesn’t come out against technology, but it is so prevalent in our lives that it makes sense to creep into the album.

The clearly autobiographical moments of the album are some of its most interesting. The sprawling “You & Me” depicts a crumbling relationship and the waste of excess and celebrity, while “Hollow Ponds” references many moments in Albarn’s life, including a shout-out to Blur (“’Modern Life’ was sprayed onto a wall in 1993”).

Everyday Robots isn’t out to reinvent music or smash the charts. Instead, it remains subtle through repeated listens until you can discover new layers. Though none of these tracks are earworms, they enter my mind at surprising times. Albarn is simply sharing music he loves to make, and we’re lucky he has finally stepped away from bands to be himself.

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Damon Albarn: Everyday Robots