A chilly, boreal ambience is central to Damon Albarn’s latest solo album, The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows. Created during lockdown at Albarn’s Reykjavik home, the album serves as an orchestral interpretation of Icelandic landscapes, and as an ode to the beauty of the natural world in the face of climate catastrophe.

Yet despite drawing inspiration from receding glaciers, frigid ocean currents, and snow-frosted beaches, in the hours preceding his one-off show in Los Angeles, Albarn found himself in some very hot water.

One day before showtime, the Blur frontman and Gorillaz co-founder called into question Taylor Swift’s validity as a songwriter. The comments, made during an interview with Mikael Wood at the L.A. Times, sparked widespread backlash and a viral Twitter response from Swift herself, who called Albarn’s take false and damaging.


Albarn quickly backtracked and issued an apology, but the debacle was likely fresh on the minds of many of guests who filed into the Walt Disney Concert Hall later that evening on January 24th.


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