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Damon Albarn|Everyday Robots

Everyday Robots

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 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.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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Everyday Robots

Damon Albarn

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1
Everyday Robots
00:03:58

Kevin Metcalfe, MasteringEngineer - Stella Page, Strings - Damon Albarn, Lead Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Stephen Sedgwick, Audio Recording Engineer, MixingEngineer - Kotono Sato, Strings - Mike Smith, Strings - Isabelle Dunn, Strings - Antonia Pagulatos, Strings - Alice Pratley, Strings - Oli Langford, Strings - Richard Russell, Producer, Drums, Percussion, Writer, Samples - John Foyle, Assistant - Kaktus Einarsson, Assistant

© 2014 Thirteen Limited under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd. This label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. (C) 2014 Parlophone Records Ltd ℗ 2014 Thirteen Limited under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

2
Hostiles
00:04:09

Kevin Metcalfe, MasteringEngineer - Stella Page, Strings - Damon Albarn, Lead Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Stephen Sedgwick, Audio Recording Engineer, MixingEngineer - Kotono Sato, Strings - Mike Smith, Strings - Isabelle Dunn, Strings - Antonia Pagulatos, Strings - Alice Pratley, Strings - Oli Langford, Strings - Richard Russell, Producer, Vocals, Writer, Drum Programmer - John Foyle, Assistant - Kaktus Einarsson, Assistant

© 2014 Thirteen Limited under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd. This label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. (C) 2014 Parlophone Records Ltd ℗ 2014 Thirteen Limited under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Limited. A Warner Music Group company.

3
Lonely Press Play
00:03:42

Kevin Metcalfe, MasteringEngineer - Stella Page, Strings - Damon Albarn, Lead Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Kotono Sato, Strings - Mike Smith, Strings - Stephen Sedwick, Audio Recording Engineer, MixingEngineer - Isabelle Dunn, Strings - Antonia Pagulatos, Strings - Alice Pratley, Strings - Oli Langford, Strings - Richard Russell, Producer, Drums, Percussion, Writer - John Foyle, Assistant - Kaktus Einarsson, Assistant

© 2014 Thirteen Limited under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd. This label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. (C) 2014 Parlophone Records Ltd ℗ 2014 Thirteen Limited under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Limited. A Warner Music Group company.

4
Mr Tembo
00:03:43

Kevin Metcalfe, MasteringEngineer - Damon Albarn, Lead Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Mike Smith, Strings - Lord Buckley, Samples - Dan Carpenter, Trumpet - Stephen Sedwick, Audio Recording Engineer, MixingEngineer - Oli Langford, Violin - Richard Russell, Producer, Drums, Writer, Noises - John Foyle, Assistant - Kaktus Einarsson, Assistant - Celia Murphy, Choir - Conroy Griffiths, Choir - Margurita Edwards, Choir - Mary Oldacre, Choir - Patsy Walsh, Choir - Veona Byfield Bowen, Choir

© 2014 Thirteen Limited under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd. This label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. (C) 2014 Parlophone Records Ltd ℗ 2014 Thirteen Limited under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Limited. A Warner Music Group company.

5
Parakeet
00:00:43

Kevin Metcalfe, MasteringEngineer - Damon Albarn, Writer, Leader, MainArtist - Stephen Sedgwick, Audio Recording Engineer, MixingEngineer - Richard Russell, Producer, Writer - John Foyle, Assistant - Kaktus Einarsson, Assistant

© 2014 Thirteen Limited under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd. This label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. (C) 2014 Parlophone Records Ltd ℗ 2014 Thirteen Limited under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Limited. A Warner Music Group company.

6
The Selfish Giant
00:04:47

Natasha Khan, Additional Vocals - Kevin Metcalfe, MasteringEngineer - Damon Albarn, Lead Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Stephen Sedgwick, Audio Recording Engineer, MixingEngineer - Richard Russell, Producer, Drums, Writer, Samples - John Foyle, Assistant - Kaktus Einarsson, Assistant

© 2014 Thirteen Limited under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd. This label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. (C) 2014 Parlophone Records Ltd ℗ 2014 Thirteen Limited under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Limited. A Warner Music Group company.

7
You & Me
00:07:05

Brian Eno, Synthesizer - Kevin Metcalfe, MasteringEngineer - Stella Page, Strings - Damon Albarn, Lead Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Stephen Sedgwick, Audio Recording Engineer, MixingEngineer - Kotono Sato, Strings - Mike Smith, Strings - Isabelle Dunn, Strings - Antonia Pagulatos, Strings - Alice Pratley, Strings - Oli Langford, Strings - Richard Russell, Producer, Drums, Writer - John Foyle, Assistant - Kaktus Einarsson, Assistant - Jerome O'Connell, Percussion - Kris Chen, Vocals

© 2014 Thirteen Limited under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd. This label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. (C) 2014 Parlophone Records Ltd ℗ 2014 Thirteen Limited under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Limited. A Warner Music Group company.

8
Hollow Ponds
00:04:59

Kevin Metcalfe, MasteringEngineer - Damon Albarn, Lead Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Stephen Sedgwick, Producer, Audio Recording Engineer, MixingEngineer - Richard Russell, Producer, Percussion, Writer - John Foyle, Assistant - Kaktus Einarsson, Assistant - Nicholas Hougham, French Horn

© 2014 Thirteen Limited under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd. This label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. (C) 2014 Parlophone Records Ltd ℗ 2014 Thirteen Limited under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Limited. A Warner Music Group company.

9
Seven High
00:01:00

Kevin Metcalfe, MasteringEngineer - Damon Albarn, Writer, Leader, MainArtist - Stephen Sedgwick, Audio Recording Engineer, MixingEngineer - Richard Russell, Producer, Writer - John Foyle, Assistant - Kaktus Einarsson, Assistant

© 2014 Thirteen Limited under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd. This label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. (C) 2014 Parlophone Records Ltd ℗ 2014 Thirteen Limited under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Limited. A Warner Music Group company.

10
Photographs (You Are Taking Now)
00:04:43

Kevin Metcalfe, MasteringEngineer - Stella Page, Strings - Damon Albarn, Lead Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Stephen Sedgwick, Audio Recording Engineer, MixingEngineer - Kotono Sato, Strings - Mike Smith, Strings - Isabelle Dunn, Strings - Antonia Pagulatos, Strings - Alice Pratley, Strings - Oli Langford, Strings - Richard Russell, Producer, Writer, Drum Programmer, Samples, Sound Effects (SFX) - Timothy Leary, Samples - John Foyle, Assistant - Kaktus Einarsson, Assistant

© 2014 Thirteen Limited under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd. This label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. (C) 2014 Parlophone Records Ltd ℗ 2014 Thirteen Limited under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Limited. A Warner Music Group company.

11
The History of a Cheating Heart
00:04:00

Kevin Metcalfe, MasteringEngineer - Stella Page, Strings - Damon Albarn, Lead Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Stephen Sedgwick, Audio Recording Engineer, MixingEngineer - Simon Tong, Guitar - Kotono Sato, Strings - Mike Smith, Strings - Isabelle Dunn, Strings - Antonia Pagulatos, Strings - Alice Pratley, Strings - Oli Langford, Strings - Richard Russell, Producer, Writer - John Foyle, Assistant - Kaktus Einarsson, Assistant

© 2014 Thirteen Limited under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd. This label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. (C) 2014 Parlophone Records Ltd ℗ 2014 Thirteen Limited under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Limited. A Warner Music Group company.

12
Heavy Seas of Love
00:03:43

Brian Eno, Additional Vocals, Writer - Kevin Metcalfe, MasteringEngineer - Damon Albarn, Lead Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Stephen Sedgwick, Audio Recording Engineer, MixingEngineer - Lord Buckley, Samples - Richard Russell, Producer, Drums, Percussion, Writer - John Foyle, Assistant - Kaktus Einarsson, Assistant - Celia Murphy, Vocals - Conroy Griffiths, Vocals - Margurita Edwards, Vocals - Mary Oldacre, Vocals - Patsy Walsh, Vocals - Veona Byfield Bowen, Vocals

© 2014 Thirteen Limited under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd. This label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. (C) 2014 Parlophone Records Ltd ℗ 2014 Thirteen Limited under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Limited. A Warner Music Group company.

Album Description

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.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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