Track Review: Polaris // Damon Albarn

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On his latest single ‘Polaris’, musical polymath Damon Albarn weaves an atmospheric soundscape inspired by the idyllic scenery of Iceland. There is plenty to unpack on ‘Polaris’, from its beautiful multi-faceted instrumentation, to the vivid imagery of its lyrics.

‘Polaris’ opens with an eerie string arrangement before launching into a joyful percussive beat and piano melody. Albarn’s vocals are unmistakeable as he sings in a deep London-accented register, layered over soothing synths.

The song’s optimistic tone is reflected in its astronomical title, which refers to the North Star. This is the brightest star of the Ursa Minor constellation, and the one which helps the others to find direction. Albarn’s voice is warm and reassuring as he sings “See the birds […] They will have to wait until tomorrow / To see each other again”. It is undeniably influenced by the isolation brought about by the pandemic but offers hope for days to come.

‘Polaris’ is the second single lifted from Albarn’s sophomore solo record The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows. The album is set to be released on 12 November 2021 and borrows its title from a poem of the same name by John Clare.

In its final minute, ‘Polaris’ shifts from orchestral-rock to jazz, with a funky saxophone solo sure to lift the spirits of any listener. The track slowly fades out with chants of “Polaris” intertwined with the whistling of birds. With ‘Polaris’, Albarn manages to steer listeners through a musical voyage imbued with serenity and optimism.

Words by Sarah Taylor


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