And so it proves. Though ‘Everyday Robots’ may well be exactly the album that has so long been expected, it’s that which makes it all the more effective. Existing in the expansive, eclectic edges of a brilliant mind and a world of music, this isn’t an album that could have existed under any other title. There’s none of the sepia melancholy or anthemic punch of Blur, nor the street smart raw attitude of Gorillaz; any material marked for future use there remains firmly unaired. Instead, this is definitively Damon Albarn. It could be nobody else.
Understated beats, steel drums and picked guitars sit alongside often introverted lyrics and sleepy, almost soulful deliveries. Those pop hooks remain, but they’re presented in increasingly interesting and rewarding ways. The second half of two-songs-in-one ‘You & Me’’s refrain tumbles and falls again and again, never once becoming tired. ‘Hollow Ponds’ - a song framed about a small lake near Albarn’s Leytonstone childhood home - is almost autobiographical (“Modern life was sprayed onto a wall in 1993” even makes an appearance), while ‘Lonely Press Play’ takes a more escapist trip.
An album that rewards investment, ‘Everyday Robots’ does have its more immediate moments. ‘Mr Tembo’, a gospel backed tale of a baby elephant, is nothing if not infectious, but it’s closer ‘Heavy Seas Of Love’ that’s the real diamond. With Brian Eno joining on vocal duties, it’s both wistful and euphoric at once - like The Good, The Bad & The Queen with a bigger engine, in many ways the best is saved for last. Like most things, it’s worth the wait.
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