First off, I have to say that Blur was my favorite band when I was in High School in the mid-90s. I’ll confess that, back then, I had a case of exaggerated anglophilia, only fed by the band’s ironic lyrics, “la la las”, and quirky compositions.
But that was then.
Since the days of Parklife and The Great Escape, I’ve realized that England really does have an inflated impression of their cultural importance… uh, wait, that’s France. I’m an American, so I needn’t be walking around in Fred Perry shirts and keeping up on the latest & greatest new band. Truth be told, and hype aside, the majority of British bands are pretty mediocre. In contrast, there are hundreds of truly exceptional American bands that barely ever get noticed. <insert your favorite here>
Which brings me to the new Blur album, Think Tank, of which I’ve received an advance copy, (available in record stores May 5). There have been conflicting reports about the release, so I thought that I’d just take a minute to dispel some rumors:
- 1. It’s a dance album. Not really. It certainly has more of a “pop” feel, but that’s nothing new for the band.
- 2. It’s a world music album. Not really. The Moroccan and West African influences are accompaniments, and they’re fully processed and integrated into the mix. It fully sounds like a 21st century LP.
- 3. Blur sucks without Graham. Ok, firing your guitarist, especially when he’s as brilliant as Graham, is tough. But the songs don’t really suffer. Besides, he appears on one track.
- 4. This is Gorillaz, Part II. Hell no. Gorillaz was fun. But, on this LP, Damon’s lyrics and vocal delivery is straight forward, in the first-person, without pretending to be someone he’s not.
So what of the new LP? It’s the most consistently good album of theirs since Parklife. Part electronic, part folk, & part Bacharach… with a few rockers to satisfy the Song 2 crowd. It’s real romantic stuff, without being irritating.
And the video for the first single uses documentary footage of a female US Marine, on duty in the Persian Gulf.
A very good record, indeed.