Music Reviews
3:24 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Album Review: 'Everyday Robots'

Originally published on Thu May 1, 2014 1:28 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Damon Albarn's first solo album is out today. Albarn was the frontman of the acclaimed British rock band Blur in the '90s, and since 2000, he has spearheaded the multi-platinum group Gorillaz.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE WINDMILL")

GORILLAZ: (Singing) Take it all it on your stride. And it's sticking, falling down. Love forever...

SIEGEL: Reviewer Tom Moon says Albarn's new work seeks out the flipside to the Gorillaz' manic intensity. The new album "Everyday Robots."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EVERYDAY ROBOTS")

TOM MOON: When I first heard "Everyday Robots," a distinct image came to mind. An airport, passengers engaged in the curious rituals of travel. Some wearing noise cancelling headphones, some deep in cellphone conversations. I could imagine Damon Albarn looking stressed out at the gate, writing this song.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EVERYDAY ROBOTS")

DAMON ALBARN: (Singing) We are everyday robots on our phones. In the process of getting home. Looking like standing stones, out there on our own. We're everyday robots in control.

MOON: With very few words and even less instrumentation, Albarn evokes a particular modern restlessness. A few songs later, he goes after it from a different angle, talking about music as a temporary remedy for loneliness.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LONELY PRESS PLAY")

ALBARN: (Singing) Swimming in blue after New Year into the mirror she flew. When I'm lonely, I press play. Can I get any closer? One anecdote cannot not bring to you. When I'm lonely, I press play. 'Cause you're not resolved in your heart. You're waiting for me. To improve

MOON: There are other moods on Damon Albarn's first solo work. But I hear them almost as palette cleansers. At the heart of the record are these elegies, songs that examine the human toll of tethering technology, and the way it has impacted old-fashioned, face-to-face interaction.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PHOTOGRAPHS")

ALBARN: (Singing) When the photographs you taking now, are taken now through sand, we are walking like zombies on judge of John Coltrane. Eight hour on the bus from Sunset, with freedom taking goal game.

MOON: For the last decade, Albarn has spent most of his energy writing for and cultivating the meta-mystique of Gorillaz - the band that uses cartoon avatars as its public face. With this solo record, he's stripped away the glitter, and pretty much all the trademarks of that group. The beats are basic, the strings spare. It's a solitary kind of bedroom soul - the weary laments of a wise man who's tasted the pace of modern life and found it overrated.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE SELFISH GIANT")

ALBARN: (Singing) It's true. I had a dream you were leaving. It's hard to be a lover when the TV's on and nothing's in your eye.

SIEGEL: Damon Albarn's new work is Everyday Robots." Our reviewer is Tom Moon.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE SELFISH GIANT")

ALBARN: (Singing) ...you were leaving. Where every atom falling in the universe is passing through our lives. Press yourself to me right now. Push yourself deep down now to the dark eels on my skull.

SIEGEL: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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