Damon Albarn‘s history in film music is a fascinating microcosm of the British artist’s multi-faceted, idiosyncratic career. And it just got more interesting with the release of solo track “Sister Rust,” which you can hear below. The Everyday Robots singer has said he wrote the tune specifically for the end credits of the new Scarlett Johansson action vehicle Lucy, and it shows: With elegant strings and tenderly delivered lyrics about a “last frame” and “credits,” it’s almost a self-conscious song about film exit music. But that’s selling it short, because the intricate, trip-hop-redolent production and the offbeat lyrics (“I met you over Rocky Mountains”? Was this written for Cliffhanger?) convey — much like the Blur/Gorillaz/etc. frontman’s new solo album — an enticing sense of low-key, world-weary melancholy.
Looking at “Sister Rust” in the context of Albarn’s previous original music for movies only makes it that much stranger and more welcome. Though he now says Blur may never release the songs the Britpop icons recorded last year, when he was in the thick of the group, in 1996, his solo track on the landmark Trainspotting soundtrack was basically just him naming off Sean Connery’s James Bond films over chintzy keyboard. In 1998, he presaged both his band’s 13 (it’s strikingly similar to B-side “All We Want”) and his later Gorillaz work with Blur’s “Cowboy Song,” a squelchy art-groove contribution to Dead Man on Campus — which starred a post-Saved by the Bell, pre-NYPD Blue Mark-Paul Gosselaar. The next year, he teamed with minimalist composer Michael Nyman for a convincingly 19th-century score to cannibal movie Ravenous (woohoo?). It’s all enough to call for Lana Del Rey‘s Ultraviolence Bond ultra-pastiche, “Shades of Cool.”