Damon Albarn was the last person planning a Damon Albarn solo album. And yet, after wildly successful runs with Blur, Gorillaz and a host of other one-off projects that included a monkey opera, here he is with Everyday Robots, his first ever solo album.
Overseen by producer and XL label boss Richard Russell, Everyday is an admittedly personal effort by the 46-year-old. Confronting a variety of mind-consuming ideals, from revisiting his childhood to maintaining a long-term relationship to observing the numbing effect modern technology has on us, Albarn is the most inward-looking he's ever been for an entire album.
As he's demonstrated over the years, his musical tastes have expanded to a capricious point, yet with Russell by his side, the production is deceptively subtle. Sedated hip-hop beats and sparse strings envelope the paranoia of the title track, random toy samples make up "Parakeet" and steel drums elevate the plaintive, Bowie-esque "You and Me." There's also a ukulele and gospel choir on a track called "Mr. Tembo," based on baby elephant he met in a Tanzania.
Albarn has proven himself a musical chameleon over the last decade, unpredictable from one project to the next. And while both Blur and Gorillaz still exist for the time being, this is exactly what we should be expecting from Albarn. Everyday Robots is a graceful and beguiling album from an artist that continues to explore, mature and surprise us with each release. Not bad for a debut album.
Read an interview with Albarn here. (Parlophone/Warner)