Damon Albarn’s first solo album in 7 years finds him in a somber mood. Written during COVID lockdowns and inspired by both Iceland and his home in Devon, the black and white cover feels right for this album that captures both light and dark in the world. Snow, rain, and especially the sea all play into the album’s themes.
“Darkness to Light” starts off with horns on a nice little tune about the dawn coming later in Iceland than elsewhere. Over an electronic beat, “The Cormorant” documents the bay that Damon regularly swims in, one that also offers a bit of danger depending on the current. “The Tower of Montevideo” takes its travels to South America and adds a bossa nova feel.
A propulsive, echoey beat in “Polaris” makes it a standout before the atmospheric album closer “Particles”. Five singles have thus far been released from The Nearer the Fountain… including the excellent “Royal Morning Blue” that captures the wonder of the rain turning to snow. “and nothing like this had ever happened… before” adds a wistful feel to the lyric. With three instrumentals, Albarn’s latest can be a slow moving, dark affair but also adds sparkling beauty on several tracks.