A ruddy gem of an album! See, while the last album set out the same theme that this one follows – that our lives are depressing myopic nothings filled with suburbia and unloving marriages and miserable jobs best avoided for the sake of our sanities – this album replaces the last album’s direct irritation with art. Okay, obviously the last one was technically art as well, but this one is “art,” as pronounced by art majors, with all of its abstractions and strings and metaphors and metonyms.
Trust me, it’s much better.
Don’t worry, it’s still a guitar-driven pop album. The whole nonsense wouldn’t work if not for the hooks, and this album delivers them like suited runners in a poker game when your luck is giving the illusion of betraying random chance. The hooks are everywhere! Vocal hooks! Guitar hooks! There are even bass hooks! Further engoodifying this album, while previous Blur albums had lengthy non-single periods of boredom, this album’s blatant album tracks are actually good, almost as good as the singles! What a neat idea!
But let’s talk about singles for a silly paragraph. “Girls & Boys” is a bouncy disco number that rides a bassline and about three vocal hooks to the pop hall of fame, “To the End” is a wonderfully sad string-led pop song whose sadness I have trouble summing up in words, “Parklife” is a gosh-darn spoken word piece featuring actor something Daniels over an intensely catchy guitar riff (even if I’m still not sure what “Parklife” refers to), and “End of a Century” is a sad, lovely song about a loveless marriage in front of the then oncoming turn of the millenium.
“Tracy Jacks / works in civil service / it’s steady employment”
“We all say “don’t want to be alone” / We wear the same clothes ’cause we feel the same / And kiss with dry lips when we say goodnight”
“Bank holiday comes six times a year / Bank holiday comes with a six pack of beer / Then it’s back to work A-G-A-I-N”
See you the gist? Oh yes, you can! But the songs keep coming, and that’s the real trick here, making this a true album. There are a few louder songs and a few softer ones but they’re motherfucking ALLLLLL good, capping it off with “This is a Low”, a final grand arms-shrugging, and a last little instrumental. Did I mention there’s a silly carnival song to drive home how silly everything is? Yes, this is a British album about modern life. Good stuff, kids.
9 / 10