Damon Albarn Everyday Robots
Damon Albarn’s many side projects—from the electronic zaniness of Gorillaz to the African rhythmic explorations on 2002’s Mali Music—have always sounded entirely different from his work with Blur. On his first solo album, Everyday Robots, the 46-year-old detours again. The deeply personal collection focuses on minimalist hip-hop and electronic programming, with occasional color added from a melancholy church choir (the Brian Eno-featuring “Heavy Seas of Love”); screeching strings and broken piano (the title track); and Bat for Lashes’ Natasha Khan (the jazzy seaside crackle “The Selfish Giant”).
Such sparse instrumentation pushes Albarn’s sleepy-eyed croon to the forefront, and while this is a boon for his musings about the perils of our connected society, a guilt-stricken cheater or his own past drug experiences, it’s not a recipe for vivacity or velocity. Everyday Robots is overall a downtrodden bummer of a record whose plodding nature undermines its well-meaning soul-searching.