Parlophone // out now
If there’s a lesson to take from Everyday Robots it’s this: If modern life was rubbish back in ‘93, it ain’t got any better over the last twenty years or so. Indeed, if anything, we’re more detached, insular and lonely than ever before. Plus, everything’s now covered in concrete. What distinguishes this solo debut from Damon’s previous work, though, is that the disbelief, ire and spiky rage with which he used to kick back against this inertia seems to have been replaced by an exhausted resignation, beaten down by a malaise he’s warned us repeatedly against, from Colin Zeal, to Yuko and Hiro and to The Good, The Bad & The Queen’s Green Fields.
It’s that latter band which mostly informs the sound here; all piano-driven and melancholia-drenched, Damon as morose as hell, not just at the dilemmas of the world, but with himself too. There are moments of introspection here that make Blur’s 13 sound like an hour on the Country House milk-float. No more so than on the wonderfully titled highlight ‘The Selfish Giant’, where, seemingly wracked with equal amounts of guilt and accusation, that cracked, tender voice breaks into “It’s hard to be a lover when the TV’s on, and nothing’s in your eyes”. It’s a heart-wrenching line, and the delivery destroys you, conjuring up the desolate scene, illuminated only by the flicker and glare of harsh television light, perfectly. As ever, though, there’s hope and salvation here as ‘Heavy Seas Of Love’, almost shanty-like, closes the album with gloriously life-affirming reassurance. Everyday Robots is an exquisite record, and an important one. Listen once, but don’t listen again. Call some people you love, go to the pub or go to the park, have a drink and have a catch-up with them. Then listen again, later.