The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows

Damon Albarn - The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows
Critic Score
Based on 28 reviews
2021 Ratings: #279 / 661
User Score
Based on 226 ratings
2021 Ratings: #522
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The Irish Times

Nature has often been a wellspring of inspiration for artists; shapeshifting and mysterious, it can hold a mirror to human nature, something Albarn does deftly here, stopping to marvel at Iceland’s landscapes (Esja), with a stopover in Uruguay (The Tower of Montevideo).

Louder Than War

When the impact inevitably comes – and it will – you will feel it. It’s a masterclass in songwriting.

The Line of Best Fit

The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows offers something entirely raw, arresting, and intriguing.

Northern Transmissions

If you go in with an ear to listen to a real artist, who is dealing with the very real and very universal theme of loss, you may be moved deeply or to tears, with the eleven track offering.


The Nearer The Fountain... may prove to be one of the most beautiful, tangentially produced artefacts of our strange and uncertain times.


For all its exotic genesis, The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows is soaked in a peculiar English melancholy.


The album isn’t perfect, and although Albarn’s vocals are well phrased and honest, they can occasionally puncture the atmosphere by coming off as wheedling... but it’s an immersive, mysterious listen.

The Skinny

Inspired by Iceland's otherworldly landscapes, Damon Albarn's new album is an arresting blend of ecopoetics and meditations on grief.


At once warm and familiar but simultaneously a little odd.


Considering it was made during a time when we couldn’t go anywhere, this album is at worst a fittingly scenic trip through the places that inspired it, and at best a fresh new sonic chapter for Albarn and a wonderful way for you to leave all the nonsense behind; blissfully reminded that there’s a beautiful world out there.

The Guardian

For all its exhausted, preoccupied darkness, The Nearer the Fountain is a genuinely beautiful album.

The Telegraph

This may well be the mercurial star's most intimate, understated and impenetrable work yet – and also one of his best.


Damon Albarn’s new album is beautiful, one worthy of the songwriter’s long and oddly-shaped legacy. No Blur or Gorillaz comparisons apply.

Evening Standard

There’s great beauty here, and a mournfulness that sounds right as we recall the year we’ve had. It’s an ideal soundtrack for stopping and watching while nature does its thing regardless.

Under The Radar

Most of the songs seamlessly track into the next while maintaining a distinct identity of their own. With each rotation of the record, Albarn’s artistry allows for discovering new puzzle pieces in a masterfully crafted way.


Unhurried and stark without being austere, The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows seems suspended from time but not place: as misty and evocative as it is, the music is grounded in a specific location, which gives this elegiac, enveloping album an emotional weight.

God Is in the TV
Sure, the title may sound a little pretentious, but worry not, this is an album that is pretty easy to get to grips with.
Beats Per Minute

The Nearer the Fountain, The More Pure the Stream Flows is perhaps the deepest inquiry into the artist – but again, we don’t really know if what we are seeing in the mirror is real.


It's a more focused effort than scattered 2014 solo debut Everyday Robots and more delicate than the bulk of his back catalogue, but Albarn's still drawing outside the lines.

The Sydney Morning Herald

As a singer Albarn is gently humbled by these vast stakes, but it doesn’t stop him creating bittersweet paeans such as Daft Wader. As ever, he finds a way.

Loud and Quiet

Albarn’s second solo record is a feature-length exercise in balladeering, some of it haunting, some wistful, some melancholic, and all wonderfully and wilfully escapist. Bluntly, Albarn haters should steer clear.


This latest collection sees Albarn's wanderlust create an album of contrasts, a group of songs that are both his most personal and most alien, most intimate yet filled with grandeur.


It’s the work of an artist who has always had many different faces, deliberately choosing to go down a low-key road, almost to the point where the casual listener will be crying out for some form of hook or memorable melody from time to time.

The Independent

This is by no means an easy record to fathom, but it does show – even after so many years – you’ll never catch Albarn resting on his laurels.

The Arts Desk

Where others go solo to satisfy band-cramped egos, solo Damon is a place of anticlimax and indirection, where his gift for melody is befogged and hazy.

Record Collector

Overall ... the effect is a bit like looking at someone else’s holiday photos: the experience must have been great for them, but it feels intangible for those who weren't there.


I have the upmost respect and appreciate everything Damon does. That said, even if there are some solid moments here I probably won’t be returning to this much.
Pleasant, intimate, and poetic. The atmosphere on the album is icy yet oddly cosy, resembling sitting by the fireplace during a stormy snowy night. I do wish there was more inventiveness or intrigue to the album but overall, it's still an enjoyable listen.
I can definitely appreciate what Damon Albarn was trying to go for with 'The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows', and while it's pleasant all around I can't really say that it's something that's worth coming back to personally. Damon does have a lot going for him in this albums setting since it has some very good somber performances from Damon himself, an interesting atmosphere and interesting sonic detours that feel inspired by David Bowie's 'Blackstar', but not all of it sticks ... read more
God that album title sounds like one of those random inspirational quotes

Wow. I’m impressed. I think that the sound palette to this album is just entrancing. I love the sound of the water peaking in throughout the album a lot because it feels like it connects songs well. I think that Damons vocals actually really well produced and performed. Even with him getting older, he still how’s a lot of beautiful songs to produce. I LOVE Darkness To Light. That song is super catchy and ... read more
This album is like the sound of winter. I really enjoyed this project its not perfect and sometimes I wish the songs on the album would go in a more ambitious direction. But the ambience and beauty of the music is clearly seen and damon albarn vocals on this album are some of my favourite in his career. This is like the complete opposite of gorillaz it's depressing.
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Added on: June 22, 2021