Having revealed to NME earlier this year that the band had been hard at work on “two new albums and an hour of noise“, now Smith has said that a year trapped inside due to COVID restrictions has made him very productive. The frontman was speaking on BBC 6 Music today (Wednesday September 9) to introduce his new collaboration with Gorillaz, which he said Damon Albarn first sent to him when he was “in the middle of finishing off the big song at the end of The Cure album” which he described as “10 minutes of intense doom and gloom”.
Speaking of his life throughout the coronavirus lockdown, Smith said: “I feel really sorry for the people who had plans this year, it’s been a disaster. From my own perspective it’s great that we got so much done last year. This year has just been – just not a year – it’s just been completely weird.
“Our whole idea for this year was really finishing off the album we started last year, me finishing off the solo album and also, finishing digitising decades of stuff in order to make this film with Tim Pope about the history of the band. So, it’s actually benefited me because there have been no other distractions, so I’ve actually got a lot of what I wanted to do, done.”
It’s worth noting that Smith been talking about working on his debut solo album since as far back as 2001.
Last summer, Smith told NME that they were previously looking to finish one “merciless” new album in 2019 – 11 years after its predecessor, ‘4:13 Dream’ — adding that it had the working title of ‘Live From The Moon’, and that it sounded “downbeat and heavy” and had been inspired by family tragedy and “darkness”.
“I think I’m generally more of a balanced individual than I was 10 years ago,” he told NME. “I’ve experienced more of life’s darker side, for real. Before I used to write about stuff that I thought I understood. Now I know I understand it. The lyrics I’ve been writing for this album, for me personally, are more true. They’re more honest. That’s probably why the album itself is a little bit more doom and gloom. I feel I want to do something that expresses the darker side of what I’ve experienced over the last few years – but in a way that will engage people.”
The frontman added: “Some of the albums like ‘Pornography’ and ‘Disintegration’ are kind of relentless. I levelled ‘Disintegration’ with some songs like ‘Lullaby’ and ‘Lovesong’, but I think this one is more like ‘Pornography’ because it hasn’t got any of those songs that lighten the mood at all.”
Back in February at the NME Awards, he told us: “You’ll be lucky to get one [new album], the way I’m working! There are only really two, the third is literally just an hour of noise. I wouldn’t call it an album. The first one will definitely be out. We’re just wrapping it up now, it’s going to be mixed. Until it’s out, no one will believe me. I look forward to it coming out, more than anybody else – trust me.”
Keyboardist Roger O’Donnell later confirmed that the new album was shaping to be their “most intense, saddest and most emotional record” – before claiming that he felt it was near completion.
“We’re finishing the record, it’s pretty much done,” O’Donnell told NME in April. “Whenever Robert does an interview, it’s interesting for the rest of the band to find out what we’re doing as well! But we’re just mixing and mastering the record now.
“There’s no rush, is there? It’s been 12 years. It is an amazing record though and totally worth waiting for. We’re very excited by it.”