Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots
Damon Albarn's solo debut proper doesn't feel like it labours under the weight of anticipation – the Blur front-man has already proved everything he has to prove with Gorillaz; on his work on the Dr. Dee libretto; with supergroup The Good, The Bad & The Queen; and in collaboration with Bobby Womack amongst many others. There is a comfortable, easy familiarity about Everyday Robots – the elegantly-constructed beats, produced by XL boss Richard Russell, are the perfect counterpoint to Albarn's fragile voice.
Albarn has never sounded better, in some ways; the nuances of his vocal performance are powerfully evoked here. The highlights – the subdued hip-hop soul of the title track; the piano, slide guitar and swooping drums of Hostiles; the sparse, melancholic balladry of The Selfish Giant – far outweigh the missteps (the plinky-plonky, overly whimsical Mr Tembo), making this a satisfying, intimate collection from one of the UK's finest songwriters – a promising start to a new phase from an artist clearly revelling in his maturity.