Damon Albarn is impossible. One minute he’s touring with Gorillaz, then he’s playing with Blur at the Olympics after show, and here he is now with his new solo album Everyday Robots of which he’ll be touring with his made band, known as The Heavy Seas … got that? Despite albums been released previously with Damon Albarn stamped on them, such as Democrazy and Dr Dee, Everyday Robots is actually the first ever solo album by Damon Albarn and if we’d to describe it in one word, we’d say nice, we’ll get on to why shortly. One thing we must say before kicking things off, if you are expecting a Blur/Gorillaz style album, look away now, that’s not to say this isn’t a good album, trust us it is, but Damon Albarn’s done it once again in a whole new way, which does take a bit of getting used to, but once it does, you’re gripped.
The album kicks off with the first track we heard from the start, announcing Damon Albarn’s solo album, and the name of the album itself, Everyday Robots, featuring the video of Damon Albarns face being rendered from as little as a Skeleton, it’s a rather unforgettable video. We must say, a b-side to Everyday Robots called ‘Electric Fenses’ is almost better than the A-Side, we highly recommend. Now, back to Everyday Robots minus the single plug.
Whilst we love the track Everyday Robots, since we’ve been reviewing the album and getting to know the album over the last week, we have found it’s fallen victim to the ‘skip to next track’ syndrome, which let’s be fair happens to most singles on albums, which isn’t great for the track, but luckily the albums biggest treats are still to come.
As a song, Everyday Robots begins and continues with a haunting string rift that really takes you back on the first listen followed by the unmistakeable vocals of Damon Albarn. The song itself talks about the growing human reliance on technology and that fear that in time we realistically will become everyday robots, purely based on our everyday reliance on technology, which really is a real concern moving forward. We were a bit disappointed that the piano part played through the song is almost equal of that from Blur’s 2012 single ‘Under the Westway’, something we felt had to be mentioned, but overall this is a great start to the album.
We first heard Hostiles performed live at the 6Music Festival, at which Damon Albarn headlined, which at the event didn’t wow us, but from start to finish on the album you find yourself instantly feeling relaxed, Hostiles really is a beautiful song. The song general theme describes the ever growing struggles of fighting off the ones around you, in aid of making everything work between just you and me.
The song itself has a very familiar acoustic melodic guitar rift, again one that Damon, we think, over uses quite a lot! Combined with the unique rhythmic sounds, to the backing vocal-cord, just makes this song really stand out and delivers a beautiful unique sound that can’t help but take you back.
Lonely Press Play
Later announced as the second single from the album, Lonely Press Play continues on from the beautiful sound taken from Hostiles, talking of the common comfort to many, music. The songs meaning doesn’t need much explanation from the common line, ‘when you’re lonely, press play’, in that we all live with troubles, whether from love, live uncertainty, but amongst it all to calm yourself down you can simply pop a song on, and even if it’s only for that one moment, just forget and relax. The song also touches on a man who is letting people down, and is trying to change to help those around him, reflected with the common line, ‘cause you’re not resolved in your heart, you’re waiting for me…to improve’.
The song continues the unusual percussion set around the entire album, delivering it with a rather melodic piano rift that really works perfectly throughout the song.
Mr Tembo is without a shadow of a doubt the most up tempo song on the album. Mr Tembo is about an orphaned Elephant Damon met whilst traveling through Africa, which inspired him to write this song about the Elephant to grow exposure. The song describes the Elephant travelling around its surrounding land with no one around him, ‘with only this song, to tell you how it feels’. Whilst the initial mood of the song, definitely in the lyrics, does bring the decreasing population of Elephants due to poaching and cruelty for their Ivory, which likely led to Elephants like the one featured for this song to be orphaned, to the limelight, which is definitely something people in Africa really need help stop poaching in the future, that exposure is definitely a positive thing as it can only help things moving forward than not.
The song itself definitely has an African sound to it, which realistically is only fitting for the song itself, but overall is a positive song as the Elephant does get saved delivering the happy ending we hope will be the result of much more Elephants in the future. The song is also the most pop song on the album, likely why it became the US single for the album, plus it also happens to be incredibly catchy and one you really can’t get out of your head, that reason alone gives it top marks for us.
Whether from a strange music box, to whatever, the odd beginning of Parakeet definitely set us pulling weird faces upon the start. We haven’t set a rating for this track as it’s genuinely just a 1 minute filler, but definitely a weird one.
The Selfish Giant
The selfish giant kicks off with the piano melancholic feel that Damon can just do instantly almost effortlessly. The song continues the reflection of Damon’s past, with common references to home mentioned throughout from street names to more. Whilst the song certainly does wow us, it definitely has a nice feel throughout, and appears to be about someone losing that focus between someone else. The way the song is delivered is pure Damon Albarn, with its mastery and perfection techniques evident throughout. The only criticism we have with the song is it feels like it’s building up for something that never comes, which interestingly we had that same feeling with Under the Westway.
‘I had a dream you were leaving.. It’s hard to be a lover when the TV is on and nothing is in your eyes, it’s true. I had a dream you were leaving, where every atom falling in the universe is passing through our lives’
You & Me
You & Me is actually the result of two songs each called their separate titles until put together with only an “&” symbol between them. You & Me is easily our favourite song from the album, despite having a rather grizzly subject behind the track, notably written about Damon Albarn’s addiction with Heroin, we find if you ignore that fact the song is actually much better. The first part of the song is a story teller, featuring common Street references and more from everywhere related to Damon Albarn, from Colchestor to beyond. Once you almost think the song has finished, from its story feel to the constant “on you”, to the reminder of the songs originating subject, “sevens highs their rising”, suddenly the song pauses with a new middle 8 rift, switching the song over to the second half of the song, where Damon takes that sing-along, stuck in your head feel from Mr Tembo and takes it to the next level. The second half of the song comprises of one single link repeating through this awesome sounding hip-hop drum beat, featuring multiple channels of Damon’s vocals echoing around. ‘you can blame me, blame me, blame me, blame me, when the twilight comes…All goes round again…”. We almost challenge you to not be repeating that on your second or even first listen. Overall, an incredible song, and our favourite.
Hollow Ponds is the perfect nostalgia song, Damon goes through his live historically right in front of your eyes. Hollow Ponds relates to a pond at which Damon used to go to when he was younger. As the song continues you find yourself looking back through your own live as Damon speaks of key events through the years, whilst reminding you of the year, the one that always gives us goose-bumps is the Blur reference ‘modern life was sprayed onto a wall, 1993’, it’s those quick links to Damon’s life through the first half of this song that just make it incredible. Almost reminding you just how long Damon has been in the music industry and how far he really has come through it. The song, whilst isn’t the best on the album, is just great for that nostalgic feel, which we can’t help but love it for!
Another odd, and rather unrequired interlude song, almost reminds us of the music that plays when the TV will be back shortly messages. Unfortunate thing of this song is it marks when the album kind of goes downhill.
Photographs (You are taking now)
Photographs, song title or not, are easily the symbolisation of history, throughout our lives there will be photos of us taken, at which we all will look back on when we get older and reminisce, and it’s that, that this song speaks of. Photographs also talks of the darker side of photographs in the modern life, where people generally take photographs almost to embarrass ourselves exclusively. The song also is the second song after You & Me that mentions Damon’s addiction with drugs, this time with cocaine.
The thing we really hate about this song is the pointless vocal interludes of a random announcer saying random things, such as the ‘beware of the photographs you are taking now…’, just makes no sense and ruins the song completely for us.
The History Of a Cheating Heart
The History of a Cheating Heart is acoustic as pure as it comes, vocal and guitar. The main problem this song has, aside from once again repeating the same style acoustic guitar rift Damon over-uses, is the fact the song generally sounds incredibly weakly produced, and almost unplanned throughout, which is something with genuinely leads to us checking the packaging to check if this actually is Damon Albarn. The song isn’t completely rubbish, don’t get us wrong, for todays music is the best thing since sliced bread, but it really stands out as a big disappointment, as the song near the end sounds like it has hope if it was just left until finished. Unfortunately we can’t rate a 4 minute song from its last 1 minute of good alone, but from it overall.
Heavy Seas of Love
Like many, when we heard that Brian Eno was to feature on ‘Heavy Seas of Love’ we were rather excited too, two legendary song writers and performers set to come together on a track had the ingredients to be just incredible, unfortunately this isn’t the case here! From Brian Eno’s quite possibly dreary vocals that sound almost patronising, which when is followed by Damon’s cheerful ‘heavy seas of love, radiance is in you’, all just adds up for quite possibly the worst song Damon has done … sorry guys. Not only does the mixture of Damon’s chorus and Eno’s verses sound incredibly out of place, but we generally just wish Eno was not put in the track and the song was produced with Damon Albarn’s vocals exclusively, as he performs it live. The 2 in the reviews is for Damon’s chorus alone, if verses continued that it may have got a 4/5 of even more.
Damon Albarn is an incredibly musician, there’s no doubting it. From Blur, Gorillaz, The Good, The Bad and the Queen, Monkey, Dr Dee, Rocket Juice and the Moon, among just a few of his successful project proves that without continuing. The only problem we have with his solo album though is its very two sided, the album would have scored so more if it wasn’t for simply the last two tracks alone. We do however still recommend you give Everyday Robots a try, another example of why Damon Albarn is such a big name in the world of music, and based on recent news and how successful his tour of this album is going, just so far, proves that’s not about to change anytime soon.