Damon Albarn is likely a name you know. If not, you almost certainly know his music. Although he consistently releases hit songs while navigating a number of musical styles, he seems to lack respect here in the states. Q Music in Great Britain named him the fourth greatest frontman of all time, but he is left out of the conversation here. Based on his discography, he certainly should be a part of the discussion.
Blur launched his career and he was a creative force with the band. They started as one of the top Britpop bands of the 90's, being constantly compared to Oasis, before evolving to match indie rock sounds coming out of the US. They dug even further into electronic music and sampling on albums like 2003's Think Tank, which included "Out Of Time".
During Blur's later years, Albarn went on to imagine another influential band Gorillaz. A virtual band, he created a cast of animated characters instead of actual people. At the same time, he mixed sounds that rarely went together before. Certainly someone must have said he was out of his mind, that no one could follow a band that didn't exist in real life and take the music seriously. Then came the hit "Clint Eastwood". Then "Feel Good Inc.". He even could explore and challenge musical styles by combining a legendary soul singer with a rapper like he did on "Stylo", featuring Bobby Womack and Mos Def.
Now comes the latest installment of Albarn's career: Everyday Robots, his first solo album. He could have returned to his Blur roots or take a new look at electronic music, but that's not the way he thinks. "Mr Tembo", the first single, is a melodic song featuring a ukele and a catchy hook, away from the trend of his most recent releases. The song has a great sense of fun and innocence with its lyrics inspired by an orphaned baby elephant Albarn saw in Tanzania.
Now that Albarn is on his own, hopefully America will start recognizing his musical talent. Is he at the same level as a Bono, Sting, Bruce, or countless others you can mention with just one name? Not yet. If his track record to date is any indication, he could be.