BY RON HART
To everyone bellyaching about Blur stonewalling the prospects of that long-awaited follow-up to 2003’s Think Tank: Do any of you honestly believe the reunited Britpop greats will emerge with anything as essential as the trilogy of titles frontman Damon Albarn has fashioned with Gorillaz?
Sure, the group could surprise us all with an epic as masterfully crafted as 1999’s 13, but it rarely turns out that way, does it? All you have to do is stream Indie Cindy by The Pixies or Soundgarden’s King Animal on Spotify for proof of that ethos. Especially when you consider that Albarn has just unveiled quite arguably the best album of his career–solo or otherwise–with Everyday Robots.
Co-produced by XL Recordings honcho Richard Russell (Albarn’s production partner on last year’s acclaimed Bobby Womack album), the 12 songs that comprise Albarn’s first proper recording under his own name serve as a quintessential cumulation of the amalgam of moods reflected in his post-Blur output—the English moodiness of The Good, The Bad and The Queen, the polyrhythmic sway of Rocket Juice and the Moon—in the form of this most intimate and illuminating collection.
In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Albarn admitted to being the primary force behind Gorillaz beyond the animation (FYI, we already knew that Captain Obvious!) And if you are a fan of The Fall or quieter moments of Plastic Beach, Demon Days or the cartoon crew’s eponymous debut—where it was just Damon and his devices—you will instantly fall in love with tracks like “The Selfish Giant”, which features vocal harmonies from Natasha Khan of Bat for Lashes and the pair of cuts featuring the voice and synths of the legendary Brian Eno, “You & Me” and the album’s ocean faring singalong “Heavy Seas of Love” which closes out the record.
One should take note of how incredibly English the tone of Everyday Robots is to boot, a 21st century extension of the sentiments you can hear on John Martyn’s London Conversation or The Kinks’ Arthur within the harmonies of the jubilant “Mr. Tembo” and the haunting “Hollow Ponds”.
Indeed, it will be a joyous day when the announcement of a new Blur LP comes across the wire.
But when Damon Albarn is making music as stunning as the material he presents on Everyday Robots, you can understand why he is in no rush.
DOWNLOAD: “Mr. Tembo”, “The Selfish Giant”, “Heavy Seas of Love”