Top critical review
14 people found this helpful
on 30 May 2014
What is happening here? Not a lot, by the sound of it.
A couple of years back, some scribe in the Guardian or Independent called Damon Albarn the new David Bowie on account of his shape-shifting, slippery nature (musically speaking); his creative itchiness from standing in the same place too long. Well, yeah, I can go along with that. But has he now decided to be the new Brian Eno? And, if so, why has he plumped for the ambient, less-is-less option over the fidgety, funny, interesting Eno of 'Before And After Science' and all those supremely daft and profoundly human records preceding it?
Why is every song on this record so muted, insipid and similarly paced? Why is there a dearth of rhythmic variation? Why is there not one single memorable melody? Is it beneath him to write a catchy pop song - or is it beyond him?
I've played this CD a dozen or more times and can't for the life of me remember anything of substance. The record begins, there's some mumbling and humming of machines for about 40 minutes or so and then it stops, making no impression whatsoever.
Speaking of impressions, there was an impressionist comedian in the 1970s called Mike Yarwood and, after his various sketches where he'd impersonate the prime minister of the day and various icons, he would end the show by saying behind his big bow tie, "And this is me" and launch into some rotten ballad that would send the entire nation out to put the kettle on. Maybe Damon Albarn is like that to some extent; take off his coat of many colours, wipe away his disguises, and you have the invisible man.
Albarn isn't some idiot-savant, a blowhard, a chancer. Rather, he's always struck me as a thoughtful, sensitive, imaginative, humorous chap with bags of ideas. It's just that, on this outing, his bag's got a hole in it.
There's a common delusion that Pop stars are over the hill at 40 and, to gain some measure of respect and integrity, they had best cool their boots and shift gear with more sedate, mature, respectable-sounding records. Well, yes, that's an option, I suppose (I doubt whether Mark E. Smith has considered it, bless him), but you needn't bore your audience to pieces in the process.
When I bought 'Everyday Robots', I also bagged 'Blood & Brambles' by Mikey Georgeson & The Civilised Scene and 'Godot Woz Ere' by Yellowjack, albums made by people roughly the same age as Damon Albarn. Their songs are, in their respective ways, tuneful, buoyant, adventurous, witty, intelligent, melodic, groovy, emotional - in fact, everything that 'Everyday Robots' isn't. It might be pertinent to add that Georgeson's and Yellowjack's albums were most likely produced on shoestring budgets simply for the sheer joy of creation. 'Everyday Robots', by contrast, sounds like the semi-detached tinkerings of a rich bored man with nothing much on his mind.