Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Damon Albarn underwhelms on his sleepy solo debut

Illustration for article titled Damon Albarn underwhelms on his sleepy solo debut

Damon Albarn’s been involved in a number of projects since Blur first took a seat on the Britpop bench. He collaborated with Tony Allen and The Clash’s Paul Simonon on The Good, The Bad, & The Queen, wrote a number of albums with the Gorillaz gang, and even founded his own record label, Honest Jon’s. What he’s never done officially, though, is release a completely solo record.

All that changes with Everyday Robots, his first. While the record features guest vocals from both Brian Eno and Bat For Lashes’ Natasha Khan, this isn’t a continuation of Albarn’s typical guest-heavy post-Blur output. Rather, it’s Albarn’s own thoughts, own voice, and own instrumentation. And while that might sound great to most “Coffee And TV” fanatics, the actual execution leaves a little to be desired.

It’s not that Everyday Robots is a bad record. It’s not. It’s just a boring record. Most songs, including the titular single, meander along so lazily that they’re practically background music. Tracks like “Lonely Press Play” kick things up a bit with the addition of a touch of horns and some jazzier notes, but they’re still anything but energetic. Even the record’s most upbeat track, “Mr. Tembo,” holds no sharp edges. If anything, with its singsong chorus and call-and-repeat notes, it’s practically a kids’ song. Other tracks on the record, like “Hostiles” and interstitials “Parakeet” and “Seven High” are almost non-entities, thrown-off tracks that would barely be worthwhile B-sides on any other Albarn project.

Everyday Robots disappoints not because it’s underwhelming or sleepy, but rather because it just isn’t Albarn’s best work. That’s a subjective statement, sure, but Robots barely functions. It’s a pretty enough record, but not one that makes any sort of impression, breaks any ground, or leaves listeners wanting more. It’s unfair to grade Albarn’s work on a curve, but it’s reasonable to expect more from a musician who’s already delivered so much. Unfortunately, Everday Robots is just a throwaway.