Blur – Chemical World

Let me state the main objection I have to Blur as a band: “the main objection I have to Blur as a band.” HHAHAHAA WOO, but seriously, it’s that I don’t like the “la la la” as a lyric. Blur are big fans of the “la la la.” To me it seems like spacefilling, mere notes when more words could make the song mean more. “Charmless Man” is the worst offender, but the trend goes back far further than that, to example on “Young and Lovely” on this single.

Anyway, this is a great release, mostly because “Chemical World” is a great song and now you can listen to it without having to hear “Intermission” afterwards (on my copy of the album it’s one track). C-dub is an interesting song for a few reasons: firstly, it’s by far the most American song Blur had released at the time. It sounds positively American radio-ish, with its vague lyrics but easy to understand concept (hint: song title), typical structure, and wheedling, constant lead guitar playing a graspable riff about the usual guitar din.

The B-sides fall into the category of “songs that do what the album does, but worse.” “Young and Lovely” takes the piss out of being young (“la la la”) to moderate success (I should note that my youth was made by bands like Blur being bleak), “Es Scmecht” does the same to office working, with a nice repetition of “the same, the same, the same, the same!” but doesn’t have an ending, and “My Ark” is a long song with a Sabbath-tribute riff unfortunately partnered with a soft pop rock. Then there’s an unremarkable cover of Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May.” Anyone else think Rod Stewart looks like Owen Wilson?

The second “disc” is a bit more amusing; first there’s a “reworked” version of the title track that mutes the production to make it more US-friendly. Yeah, I don’t get it either. Then there are three “Live at Glastonbury” tracks that are far, far better than your usual live tracks in that they catch the band at a particularly mean-spirited gig. The first, “Never Clever” is made into loud mush, and is far better on the studio version that somehow didn’t make it onto any of these singles, then there’s a “corking” version of “Pressure On Julian” wherein the band decides to just make lots of noise for three minutes instead of finishing the song (pretty great), and then there’s an aggressive version of “Come Together” from “Leisure,” which they mock by asking “have you had a good festival?” to the crowd in the classic “mocking-pretentious-artists” tone. They make it into a good song by sounding legitimately angry! And why shouldn’t they sound angry? They’re playing song after song about the immense bleakness of modern existence mixed with silly dance songs to a festival audience probably more interested in taking psilocybin and playing in rain than a message of hopelessness, and you can hear it, grandly. Nothing world-breaking, but more than enough reason to listen.

7 / 10

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