Damon Albarn’s latest record, The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows, is a chilly affair in more ways than one. The subdued solo release was recorded in Iceland, with tracks that were drawn from what Albarn initially conceived to be a larger abstract piece. The record’s moods are certainly a change of pace for Albarn, who’s known for his maximalist Britpop and trip-hop at the helm of Blur and Gorillaz, respectively. In his live performances surrounding the new album’s release, Albarn has leaned into the brooding crooner approach on the covers front as well; earlier this month, he offered a live solo piano version of The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” for BBC Radio 2.
Albarn’s cover removes the pep and abandon of the original Human League cut, examining the synth-pop classic from a lonelier vantage. He draws the hook down to a whispered plea, lowered a full octave and spinning out slowly into a piano etude, gently twirling in snowfall. It may be a bit far to say Albarn elicits true pity with his cover; he still revels in a few well-placed moments with his signature droll vocal delivery. But the melancholy vibes do get pretty close to something beautiful.
Check out Damon Albarn’s solo piano cover of The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” below. The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows is available now here.