Damon Albarn

Everyday Robots

Written by: PP on 23/06/2014 22:41:33

Damon Albarn, who most of us know from his work with Blur and Gorillaz, was booked to headline Roskilde Festival this year on the Orange Stage with what I consider thin basis. On the back of one solo album that hadn't even been released yet, it seems strange to be allowed on one of the biggest stages in the world straight away. Alas, here I stand with sophomore album "Everyday Robots", attempting to justify the decision-making of the Roskilde Festival booking staff. The verdict? I get where they're coming from, but it's a confusing choice nonetheless.

"Everyday Robots", much like the title track in fact, is quiet and subtle, focused on building minimalistic atmospheres and making them come alive. Despite including violins, pianos and many other instruments usually found in conjunction with theatrical rock operas, it is not a dramatic album that rips the world a new one through overblown soundscapes or other superfluous means. Instead, the record is one of two things. One, it demands attention to detail from the listener in order to get anything out of the record. The music is focused on creating specific moods using minimalistic means to do so, and if you miss these because you're too drunk, absent-minded, or something else, it's just not going to work. Whilst the first two tracks are quiet and subtle as mentioned, slow in tempo and riddled in experimentalism when it comes to singer/songwriter type music, "Mr Tembo" instead features an upbeat, Hawaiian beach themed expression to underline the whole mood part I was talking about just before. And herein lies the problem and item number two on my categorization of the record: it is also music to lie on your back in the sun and fall asleep to. While not necessarily a safe album in terms of songwriting, it's still a very unobtrusive one, where not knowing the songs inside out means having to struggle to fully appreciate the minimalism that functions as the inner strength of this album. So for a Roskilde booking, this may prove to be problematic, unless some Blur or Gorillaz material is sneaked in the middle, although I doubt it.

Speaking of which, if you're coming in expecting something like Blur or Gorillaz you're going to be sorely disappointed. Albarn's soft singing is in the opposite side of the musical realm from Blur's "Song 2" for example, and there aren't nearly enough electronics involved to warrant a proper Gorillaz comparison either. The experimentalism of the latter project is still of course on the background throughout the record, but to a lesser extent. This is a singer/songwriter album, after all, even if it strives to explore music from Albarn's unique perspective instead. 'Folktronica' and 'trip hop' is what I've also seen it being referred to.

Still, I'm left slightly perplexed after "Everyday Robots". The minimalism and soothing soundscapes are enjoyable to an extent, but that's about as far as we're going to go. It's not among the best releases even in its month of release, but it's a good album overall.

7

Download: Everyday Robots, Heavy Seas Of Love, Mr Tembo, The Selfish Giant, You & Me
For the fans of: Bobby Womack, Brian Eno, Bon Iver, Gorillaz, Temples
Listen: Facebook

Release date 25.04.2014
Parlophone Records / XL Records

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