First Listen Review: Damon Albarn – “Songs from wonder.land”

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The Good: As far as how well an album compiling the music of a musical sells the real life show itself, this LP does the job terrifically. The choice of Damon Albarn as the writer for the tunes was a brilliant move in getting the idea of a modern Alice in Wonderland across. Damon is famous for his ability to craft colourful songs with memorable characters, as his earlier work with Blur shows. This play, as the title suggests, wants to push an Alice story centered around the virtual world. Many of these songs seem to use Damon’s talent mixed with the traditional characters people know and love from Alice In Wonderland to critique modern society. First, there is “Fabulous” which takes the classic cat character to push an annoying kitty cat refrain, symbolizing the obsession social media has with cats. There is the centipede on “Who Are You” questioning the meaning of self, how we ask this question on a daily basis. Doesn’t the average person use social media to present a different self? Doesn’t the version of ourselves people consume change on a daily basis based on our usage of Facebook? Hasn’t the idea of self been shrouded in mystery to a certain extent since we became absorbed by the computer? Constantly now needing to enjoy the same opinions as our friends online, completely taken into the yoke of the collective rather than the individual capable of doing activities at his or her own private leisure?

“I’m Right” seems like another character has been taken over by the voice of social media’s political or social warriors who believe it their duty, even their government sanctioned job, to conform others to their opinion. “Everyone Loves Charlie” perhaps is about how an onlooker watches the perfect world of another get more likes than them, even when the other person does wrong. All of this is done with catchy melodies and characters who possess voices that straight away the listener falls in love with. The blend of Scottish and English voices is also very refreshing. At times the use of instruments combined with speaking in a Scottish accent reminds me of Belle and Sebastian.

The Bad: The “Fabulous” song with its repetition of kitty cat can be annoying, but it’s easy to tell that was done on purpose. The last few songs lack melody as well and some are short, but again, I presume when attached to a musical this is all fine.

Would I Listen Again: Definitely

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