Amid the nonsense lie a couple of real gems...
Jack Smith 2003
Damon Albarn is a great pop being. Blur's seventh album, the career best Think Tank, was made despite the loss of Graham Coxon. He sold truck loads as a cartoon band in Gorillaz,avoids becoming Sting with Mali Music and co-starts the Honest Jons label releasing anything from fifties calypso to digital dancehall dub. Whilst his former contemporaries and rivals bite the dust around him, he is frankly unstoppable.
And now we have his debut solo album, Democrazy. It was recorded on a four-track in hotel rooms during Blur's American tour this summer. Releasing it on his own label as a limited double ten-inch vinyl only affair to be sold chiefly via mail order suggests the unlikelihood of a chart-topper. It is, Albarn claims, meant to show an - albeit hungover and bloodshot - insight into his songwriting process.
Mainly it's a bit of a no-fi ramble with some little moments of tune emerging with tracks such as the bonkers "Five Star Life" is a stoned croon over budget funk. Some tracks are barely there, such as the eastern flourish that is "Reedz" or the sweet "Hymn To Moon"."Back To Mali" even sounds a bit like the theme from Trumpton. Amid the nonsense lie a couple of real gems; the gorgeous if frustratingly brief "Half A Song" should really become a full-blown proper tune sharpish; as should "Sub Species Of An American Day" and "Rappy Song" is an irritatingly catchy minute casio disco strum perfect for a Gorillaz remake.
A vanity affair perhaps, but Democrazy is no and-this-is-me ego trip. Destined to be fought over at record fairs for years to come - it's what becomes of two or three of these songs next that will really be interesting.