Demon Days is unified and purposeful in a way Albarn's music hasn't been since The Great Escape, possessing a cinematic scope and a narrative flow, as the curtain unveils to the ominous, morose "Last Living Souls" and then twists and winds through valleys, detours, and wrong paths -- some light, some teeming with dread -- before ending up at the haltingly hopeful title track. Along the way, cameos float in and out of the slipstream and Albarn relies on several familiar tricks: the Specials are a touchstone, brooding minor key melodies haunt the album, there are some singalong refrains, while a celebrity recites a lyric (this time, it's Dennis Hopper). Instead of sounding like musical crutches, this sounds like an artist who knows his strengths and uses them as an anchor so he can go off and explore new worlds.
Never the most popular of pop stars, Damon Albarn is presumably used to being called names. Even the other members of Blur seem unable to resist the temptation. Bass player Alex James famously mocked Albarn's Britpop-era pin-up status by publicly noting his resemblance to the boyishly charming panto character Buttons. When Albarn began dabbling in rap, James waggishly referred to the singer as "the blackest man in west London".