Review Summary: Whatever makes you happy on a Saturday Night
Boasting a press release claiming that Everyday Robots
will be an amalgamation of "dub oriented elements... dazed electronic ambience... and percussive textures", you'd be forgiven for thinking that Albarn had gone and created something as exciting as Modern Life is Rubbish
, contextually adapted to 2014. You'd also be forgiven for thinking that their might be something bonkers and out of the box when it comes to Albarn's first solo effort since the deplorable operatic soundtrack Dr. Dee
However things are rarely as ideal as they may seem, with the lull of the dragging and tired "Lonely Press Play" being a sour indicator of things to come. All bleeping and clicking, Albarn drawls out a rather bland pastel picture suited to his own idealistic sense of being working class. Never a soulful vocalist, his playful tones feel stifled by a tune that dawdles around a mid-tempo electric drum beat and and generic lyricism ("'Cos you're not resolved in your heart/you're waiting for me"). But that's just analyzing one single of 12 songs; surely
the rest of this must at least justify a listen"
Unfortunately, Albarn makes a rather unsatisfying case for this being one of his most avoidable releases. Produced in conjunction with Brian Eno, Everyday Robots
doesn't reach the bonkers levels of experimentation it really should. As a man who managed to fuse a wicked and macabre sense of humour with pop music, why on Earth he decided to go down this route is debatable. Of course, midlife is often a time of contemplation and consideration, but those descriptions hardly relate to this quagmire of sullen piano ballads and dub influenced prose. Just take a look at any of the 5 singles that have already been released from this; the emotional pallet explored across the aforementioned "Lonely Press Play", the title track, "Hollow Ponds" and "Mr. Tempo" being interchangeable, with only subtle inclinations of acoustic guitar, EDM beeps and piano lines distinguishing the lot. Devoid of hooks, it leaves very little to get excited about; arguably, it leaves the Eno collaboration "Heavy Seas of Love" as the only distinguishable moment, hardly acceptable coming after 40+ minutes of dull adult contemporary aping rhetoric.
Evidently, Albarn really doesn't have much emotionally to offer outside of his own playful psyche that dominated his time in blur. It's not a dig against the style on offer, nor is it implying that Albarn is a one dimensional character, but it's difficult to get excited for an album that basically meanders around the same mood and never reaches any true catharsis or prophetic intent. Indeed, Albarn has created a highly inoffensive piece so monotonous and tedious that it undoes the one factor that defined him; fun
. Here's hoping Graham Coxon is waiting at the finish line.