Everyday Robots

Everyday Robots

by Damon Albarn
     
 

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If there ever were a modern rock star who could be called an auteur, it'd be Damon Albarn. As the leader of Blur, he was responsible for the group's grand themes, taking credit for the birth of Brit-pop circa 1993's Modern Life Is Rubbish, but his signature -- a sly, theatrical blend of melodic post-punk and new wave undercut by electronic

Overview

If there ever were a modern rock star who could be called an auteur, it'd be Damon Albarn. As the leader of Blur, he was responsible for the group's grand themes, taking credit for the birth of Brit-pop circa 1993's Modern Life Is Rubbish, but his signature -- a sly, theatrical blend of melodic post-punk and new wave undercut by electronic exoticism and a thirst for world music -- grew ever more distinctive in the projects he pursued after the group's 2003 dissolution, surfacing in the dystopian future of Gorillaz and the glum present of the Good, the Bad & the Queen. He didn't hide within a collective so much as embrace collaboration, using other musicians to accelerate exploration, with all the different musicians underscoring his own world-view. Albarn is not without a collaborator on Everyday Robots, his first official pop solo album (he released the experimental opera Dr. Dee under his own name in 2012). He's produced by Richard Russell, the head of XL Records, and Damon's co-producer on Bobby Womack's 2012 comeback The Bravest Man in the Universe, a sparse electronic soul album that shares some skeletal characteristics with Everyday Robots. Russell assists Albarn in shaping Everyday Robots into a quiet, contemplative extended meditation on modernity and the past, a record that seems personal but stops just short of confessional. "Hollow Ponds," which intercuts pivotal vignettes from throughout his life, acts as the autobiographical centerpiece but often the lyrics that stick depict the isolation of modern technology, the "everyday robots on our phones" who press play when they're lonely. Underneath this high-tech alienation, what's left unspoken is how Albarn and Russell are hardly Luddites. Everyday Robots embraces modern technology -- its rhythms are digitized, electronic instruments are interwoven with acoustics, spoken samples are deployed strategically -- which doesn't undercut Albarn's disconnection thesis so much as underscore his resignation at existing in the fractured present. This is the key dichotomy of the album; its surfaces are Spartan, its tempos slow and measured -- it quickens its step only at "Mister Tembo," a joyous ode to the birth of an elephant -- but it's a soulful album, not chilly. Its sadness is a warm, enveloping melancholy that harks back to the floating psychedelic dissociation of "This Is a Low" while touching upon the digital desolation of Demon Days. Upon repeated listens, the sorrowful undertow of Everyday Robots becomes a comfort, a balm for moments of alienation; it's the kind of record that when you're lonely, you press play.

Product Details

Release Date:
04/29/2014
Label:
Parlophone (Wea)
UPC:
0825646331314
catalogNumber:
541808
Rank:
15092

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Damon Albarn   Primary Artist
Timothy Leary   Spoken Word
Brian Eno   Synthesizer,Vocals
Richard Russell   Percussion,Drums,Sampling,Spoken Word
Dan Carpenter   Trumpet
Isabelle Dunn   Strings
Alice Pratley   Strings
Simon Tong   Guitar
Robert Morey   Spoken Word
Stella Page   Strings
Antonia Pagulatos   Strings
Natasha Khan   Vocals
Kris Chen   Spoken Word
Oliver Langford   Strings,Violin
Kotono Sato   Strings
Demon Strings   Strings
Pentecostal City Mission Church Choir   Choir, Chorus
Patsy Walsh   Choir, Chorus
Nicholas Hougham   French Horn
Mary Oldacre   Choir, Chorus
Margurita Edwards   Choir, Chorus
Jerome O'Connell   Steel Pan
Conroy Griffiths   Choir, Chorus
Celia Murphy   Choir, Chorus
Veona Byfield Bowen   Choir, Chorus

Technical Credits

Damon Albarn   Composer
Richard Russell   Producer,drum programming
Stephen Sedgwick   Engineer
Aitor Throup   Art Direction
Mike Smith   String Arrangements

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