Blur sound different from Gorillaz.

The Good, The Bad And The Queen sound different from Rocket Juice And The Moon. All of the above sound different from the operas Dr Dee and Monkey: Journey To The West. And yet you know instantly that Damon Albarn is at their creative core. Given that he's usually such a collaborative fellow (the hub around which Africa Express spins wildly), this solo debut is tellingly personal affair. It's as if Albarn has taken everything he has learned from his global projects and applied them to a localised observation on modern life that saw him wandering around childhood haunts in East London, making "field" recordings. Looped and sampled, these now form the aural equivalent of an artistic collage over which Albarn's voice is the sad and knowing human component. It's wonderfully mature music. In the month that BBC Radio celebrates the 20th anniversary of Britpop, you only have to compare this to recent efforts by the Gallagher brothers to know who won that particular war.

Alan Morrison

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