THERE are several Damon Albarns.
And the one behind Everyday Robots is neither of his most famous incarnations – the cocky Blur frontman or the cartoon hip-hopper of Gorillaz.
The Damon in charge here is making his first appearance in front of the mic after sharing production duties on Bobby Womack’s 2012 comeback album The Bravest Man in the Universe.
Everyday Robots’ producer Richard Russell – also behind the desk for Bravest Man – calls this the third in a trilogy which began with another comeback, the late Gil-Scott Heron’s I’m New Here, before moving on to Womack’s.
The album’s overall languid tone is set by the title track and lead off single, which couples Gorillaz’ more laid-back beats with the Out of Time Blur – and barring a couple of exceptions, that’s the way it remains for the rest of the album.
Albarn is one of the greatest songwriters of this or any age, and Everyday Robots’ tunes are never less than stellar, with Hollow Ponds, Lonely Press Play and History of a Cheating Heart and Heavy Seas of Love particularly outstanding.
The worry is that there’s a slight chance of some songs’ quality being lost in their stylistic similarity to each other, and it’s certainly not the most immediate of albums.
But when it starts to sink in, it’s an exemplary example of modern, grown-up pop that will be hard to beat.
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By Andrew Greenhalgh