Wednesday 21 May 2014

Damon Albarn's Beautiful Melancholia

Ever since he has been making music, Damon Albarn has treated us to many wonderful compositions. During his time with Blur it became clear that he is a gifted composer. Together with the unique guitar skills of Graham Coxon, a very good songwriter of his own, this resulted in some timeless songs, especially at the end of the band's lifespan. After that Albarn was always following his heart in Gorillaz, The Good The Bad & Queen, his operas and the many projects he was involved in. He's an interesting and versatile musician who now releases his first true solo album Everyday Robots.

Damon Albarn - Everyday Robots (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)

It may be surprising that he never released a solo album before, but Albarn never felt the need. He was able to ventilate all his musical ideas through the many project he is part of. And if it wasn't for producer Richard Russell it may have never happened. Albarn seems to feel quite happy in bands or other collaborations. But maybe this time his songs are even more personal, drawing inspiration from encounters or places in his life. Or simply thoughts that have been wandering in his mind. The songs feel as if he's dreaming out loud, kind of the way you see him sitting on a stool on the album cover.

Sometimes his songs are quite specific, like 'Mr. Tembo', the sad story about an elephant in Tanzania he once met. Other times he's pondering about our relation to technology nowadays in title track 'Everyday Robots':
"We are everyday robots on our phones In the process of getting home Looking like standing stones Out there on our own"

But always the songs have that typical Albarn sound and feel. The playfulness from Blur, the hiphop, relaxed electronic beats and sounds of Gorillaz, the melancholia of The Good The Bad & Queen, the African influences and gospel, they are all there. Not only does this album feel personal, it holds everything Albarn has brought with him from the past. It feels as if he's holding still for a moment, like many of us do hallway our life, looking back at his past, looking around at the state of the world. It makes him sad now and then, but not depressed. It may all be far from perfect, but there's always hope:
"If the world is too tall You can jump you won't fall You're in safe hands What the day will now give How those seeds will now live It's in your hands"

This album feels like the logical conclusion of what Damon Albarn has been about so far. At the same time it's a showcase of his skills and talent, the apparent ease and nonchalance of his songs. When you listen closely you'll notice how every note is there for a reason, every word has been given thought. Now he's moving on again and we can only speculate on what will be next, all we know is that it will be interesting. Slowly he's shaping up to become one of the most unique composers of his generation.

Listen to 'Everyday Robots' on Spotify.

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