Why wasn’t “Advert” the third single? AAAHHH! But anyway. Yes, “Sunday Sunday” isn’t the album’s third most accessible song, and there are a couple things wrong with it – the third verse is the same as the first, the speed-up in the middle doesn’t really fit – but it does, for me anyway, drive home just how thorough Blur’s takedown of “modern life” was. Everybody can get behind thinking it’s bleak to take hours to commute to work or to be overly pleased with being properly coiffed, or the decline of romance when time is money, but this song is a criticism of a nice family whiling away a Sunday afternoon. And, in only a couple lyrical vignettes, it does the job! The main character reads the TV guide, goes for a walk in the park, regrets leaving the meal so late, and goes to sleep and does it again the next week, while the music goes carnivalesque, emphasizing how silly and wasteful it is; our comforts make just as little sense as our stresses.
Now then, B-sides! For this single, in order to fulfill their requirement of putting out two full albums worth of material per album, Blur mine their pre-Blur history as a band called “Seymour” and release eight unheard songs from their old recordings.
First, I’d like to know just how many motherfucking songs Damon Albarn wrote in his early 20s. We’ve already got two albums, two more albums worth of B-sides, and at least one album as Seymour that we’ve never heard. HOW MANY MORE, DAMON? HOW MANY? It’s quite a lot of prolificicity.
Now, the songs themselves. They’re all pretty badly produced. I understand they probskies didn’t have much money for recording, but the guitars sound like they were recorded inside of a pipe miles away from the vocals. It’s obviously not album quality. But unlike most of their modern recordings, these songs see a band that songs almost nothing like Blur at all! Mainly because unlike the “fun” Leisure and the serious MLIR, the band gets to display all sorts of weirdness here. Drinking out of depression! Whimsy! Musical experimentation all over the place! Totally not like the band I know and love! Really, there’s one stop-and-starter bad attempt at being depressing, one shoegazer with completely indecipherable lyrics two really fast-paced rockabilly-ish songs, two shanties (!), and two normal-paced songs with odd things going on musically. It all features singing about weird topics, odd vocal and musical modulation, guitar fills instead of drum fills, how the hell did this interesting band get turned into turning out crap like the slow, boring “She’s So High”? Gah! The band actually sound like they’re having fun here, which I guess we couldn’t have.
Not all the songs are good, mind you. The aforementioned attempt at being depressing fails by being way too lyrically dull (“I put poison into my body / To forget that I am me”) and having a descending bassline kick in that sounds way out of place, the aforementioned shoegazer goes on way too long and doesn’t do anything musically interesting to justify its lack of identifiable lyrics, and one of the two shanties is just annoying and repetitive. The two fast-paced songs are both rather lightweight, even though they’re fun. However, the second one of them, “Long-Legged” sticks in my head, “Tell Me Tell Me Tell Me” has a great distorted fill kick in that I just lub, “Mixed Up” has a great riff and a constant awesome feeling of syncopation throughout, and “Daisy Bell (A Bicycle Made For Two)” sounds like an Irish drinking song, with the hooks to pull it off.
The last thing I get from this is a horrible feeling that having a successful band takes a fuck of a lot of work. The band wrote these songs over the course of months, played them hundreds of times, spent hours recording them, exchanged feedback, practised at night, brewed coffee early on weekends, developed a fanbase, and walked out of the studio thinking these were some great songs they had written. And they didn’t even get released! They had to record a whole new album instead! These songs all had to be completely phased out of being played live, because the studio told them to! All the work and laughter and stress that went into the entire project of “Seymour” came to a bunch of B-sides on a third single, and only because they met success five years later. And this is why you don’t start a band expecting to get anywhere.
8 / 10