Blur – 13

In which Blur have completely lost their shit and made my favourite album of theirs.

This album is weird as a muffin shaped like a switchblade drowning in neon eternity, and about as silly. There’s exactly one song that fits in any way being a “pop song.” It’s blatantly a record by Damon Albarn and the Blurs, being a break-up album structured by his recent relationship. It’s all atmospheric and self-loathing and shit, and there’s fucking nothing of their earlier style to be found; it’s pretty much impossible to hear who they were only two albums ago. The lead single is an eight minute gospel song. The one rock song is an unlistenable disdain-o-rama. They obviously stopped giving a shit about things like titles and liner notes and including lyrics, and there are song blurbs sprinkled liberally, hidden in the tracklisting that is the album’s only packaging aside from basic credits.

Luckily, Damon at this point could write great songs and Blur could make great songs out of pixie dust. This stuff is great on so many levels that I’m sad to have to review it and stop hearing it.

It’s touching: “Tender is my heart / I’m screwing up my life” whines Damon in the aforementioned gospel first single, the first of the album’s many great lines, which include a casual mention that “I lost my girl to the Rolling Stones” in the (but it works) hip-hop-esque “Trailerpark” (helps to know that his girlfriend left him for a Rolling Stone), he bemoans his lack of self-improvement in “Caramel,” “1992” is a ten year old repetitive drone about infidelity, “No Distance Left To Run” is a direct break-up song and makes me freaking cry…hell, even the closing organ doodle “Optigan 1” sounds genuinely sad, like the credit music to a film with a bad ending.

It’s catchy: the pop song “Coffee and TV” is the obv example, but I remember every song on here well, way more than most Blur albums in particular but in general all the album tracks are solid and worth sticking around in your brain pan. Just try to forget that keyboard hook on “Trailerpark” or the stuttering guitars on “Battle.” Betcha can forget just none!

Even the bad songs are good! This is sort of the last point again. Anyway, it’s a coherent, artistic piece of work by a bunch of guys who were on the verge of splitting acrimoniously but pulled it together just enough to make a definitive statement about something not modern life. Break-up albums are common, but this one plays like a film in song. The aforementioned unlistenable joke song is great for being catchy and scathing enough that I always kinda love it, even the duck voice. The only reason I’m not giving this one 10 out of 10 is because “Bugman” is meh and the hidden tracks get tiresome. They should have just put them all in the end in one annoying track that I can skip like everyone else does.

In conclusion, don’t bother; there’s nothing on here that sounds like “Song 2.”

9/10

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