Listening to Damon Albarn's Everyday Robots
as the sun shines on a beautiful spring day is one of those magical moments in music where the soundtrack perfectly fits into the scenic mood of my surroundings. Albarn has once again pushed himself into uncharted territory as he had with Gorillaz and earlier with Blur. Throughout Everyday Robots
, Albarn's poetic shyness builds into orchestral moments of musical expression that opened my eyes to the brilliance of his songwriting. To his credit, this latest musical venture is one of the year's strongest debuts.
Sometimes a soft delivery conveys a thousand emotions, and Albarn's somber lyrics conceptually focus on society's converging social habits with digital media platforms. Falling in line somewhere between communally relevant and musically daring, Albarn's debut is easy to digest in terms of grasping the enormity of his own struggles and the under-the-table issues that go unnoticed in the mainstream eye. Ironically, I'm not fond of the album opener "Everyday Robots" as it falls under a classic category of a weaker single not measuring to same standard achieved by the album's other tracks. The variety of instruments on the following songs allows the expressive tones to shuffle, therefore avoiding gaps of stagnation or repetition. "Lonely Press Play" sounds like a cross between adult-cotemporary and a jazz ensemble with its horn section and piano interludes; however, the following track "Mr. Tembo" incorporates a Caribbean rhythm underneath a folk-like vocal harmony. The album's loose production makes the listening experience feel as if Albarn is playing the piano or acoustic guitar in the same room.
Clocking in over seven minutes, I cautiously worried that "You & Me" would fall into a dull spiral of longevity, yet I judged its time limit way too soon as the track is truly the highlight of Everyday Robots
. At the 2:25 mark, the verse transitions from a beautifully finger picked guitar riff into an electric ensemble that allows the keyboards to pour away with a picturesque note selection. When Albarn repeatedly sings, "You can blame me," the harmony is delivered with a hovering sense of regret that pours his heart right into the ears of the listener. On "The History Of A Cheating Heart" Albarn's acoustic guitar solely carries a majority of the song until interludes of synthesizers build into a chilling verse where he sings, "I do you love you but it's just a fact / The history of the cheating heart is always more than you know."
When a noteworthy songwriter like Albarn allows himself to vent those personal frustrations into his music, it builds those unison moments where the listener could resonate with his lyrical outpouring. While his somber moments could drift into periods of depressing moods, the majority of his tracks transition into an uplifting key that counterbalances the feeling of sadness. It's almost as if Albarn created a piece of music that represents the highs and lows of basic human emotions. With a 20-year history of writing material in the public eye, releasing a solo record up to Everday Robots'
standards is commendable on Albarn's part for remaining motivated to push himself as a musician. We're excited to keep an eye on Albarn's progress as a solo performer and watch his set at the upcoming Governors Ball in June.
is out now on Parlophone Records. Get your copy here