Album Review: 'Everyday Robots'

Apr 29, 2014
Originally published on May 1, 2014 1:28 pm
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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")

(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")

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")

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")

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")

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

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE SELFISH GIANT")

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