Damon Albarn, Everyday Robots (Parlophone) **1/2
Nobody does the side project quite like Damon Albarn. It's worth arguing even that he's eclipsed his fame as frontman for Blur, primarily with history's most popular cartoon alt-rap group Gorillaz, and eventually with his one-off Afrobeat project The Good, the Bad & the Queen and the two opera scores he's composed.
This winning history can't help but frame Everyday Robots, which bears the weighty distinction of being Albarn's first release under his own name during his 25-plus-year career. With 12 tracks clocking in at just over a half hour, it's a flighty record that proves why he's chosen to stick behind side projects for all these years.
Stripped of experimental instrumentation and adventurous spirit, it turns out Albarn mostly just writes plaintive, rather dreary mid-tempo tracks, the likes of which make up 80 percent of Robots. Even the upbeat songs—particularly the catchy but cloying "Mr. Tembo"—fail to inject life into this uninspired set.
For all the shape-shifting talent Albarn has shown throughout his side projects, the one style he can't figure out how to play is his own.