Blur’s Think Tank

blurReview: A+
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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

20 Responses to “Blur’s Think Tank”


  • Close. Murdoch’s Australian, which is like being British only with slightly better teeth and a predilection for thievery.

  • hahahah. thanks for the correction. but is Alex a fuckup or what? He must be writing on his computer-hour at the mental hospital.

  • Watch it Noddy / Neddy, whatever, that’s the sub-editor of Dazed and Confused you’re talking about there. Not some American random who produces a website dedicated to his own opinions.
    Now I’m not taking sides here, but its quite apparent that this whole argument has developed from not listening to each other, and both having opinions that you want the other person to refute, so you can call them bigoted and ill-informed.
    You’re both well informed, and though you have the facts and figures, you haven’t experienced each other’s situations at all so this argument has degenerated into name-calling.
    I doubt that makes sense, but I was out late yesterday watching a band called Hot Hot Heat who are Canadian and fucking rock. They were supported also by Har Mar Superstar who is always good for a laugh. This is the kind of music people should be getting behind, new music that deserves the attention, whether its British, American or anything else.
    My interest in Think Tank lies mainly in the artwork, produced by Banksy, as I haven’t yet heard much of the album. I’m sure it’ll be quite interesting to listen to, but won’t stand out much.

  • Olly, nice lap dog you make. Alex is as much a journalist as President Bush is eloquent.

    Reading some American music magazine reviews, THINK TANK got some good reviews:

    Rolling Stone: 4 stars
    Spin: A

    And they both say practically the same thing I did… that Blur is different without Graham Coxon, but that Damon is the essential part of the band, and the record doesn’t suffer without Coxon’s input.

    But, go see for yourself. The album comes out tomorrow, May 6.

  • gives

    a

    fuck

  • I think Blur needs needs a restraining order issued against their instruments after this album. In fact, it is so horrible the next one should be free. I can’t get into it.

    The tides between the UK and US roll between each other every 7-10 years. In the early 90’s it was grunge. Mid-late 90s it was rock/pop blur, oasis, etc. Now it is the White Stripes, Interpol, etc.

  • I can’t say enough about the art direction by Banksy. Truly top notch.

    And, in the special edition CD, we’re treated to pages and pages of Damon’s amateurish doodles and lyric sheets. Fascinating– especially “Sweet Song”, which has some more personal lines (about Graham?) that weren’t used in the final lyric.

  • More positive press clippings:

    Guardian reviews Blur LIVE at the Astoria, London: 5 Stars

    Time Magazine‘s review:

    “The opening track, Ambulance ? which would sit easily on David Bowie’s Low ? begins with a declaration: “I ain’t got nothing to be scared of.” And Albarn does seem musically fearless. Think Tank is often experimental but never jarring, mixing synth and acoustic picking.”

    New York Newsday on “Think Tank”:

    “‘Think Tank’ is Blur’s best album since its debut ‘Leisure,’ brimming with new ideas and bundles of energy tempered by Albarn’s growing musical knowledge.”

    The BBC raves:

    “Would Think Tank be any good? …the answer is yes. Think Tank… sounds utterly confident, sure-footed, and, in some ways, defiant. “

    Melbourne Herald Sun gets catty (which I don’t condone):

    “Not being on “Think Tank” is Coxon’s loss. Albarn hasn’t had to point out it’s Blur’s best album; the media are doing it for him.”

  • but graham wasn’t on crazy beat…..so i would apologise to your girlfriend if i were you :p

  • Easy for you to say, now… heh… :-D

    I was just guessing, on my ear. It appears, I was wrong about that.

  • I’M LISTENING….I GOT NO A OPINION YET…BUT I LIKE IT….IT SOUNDS STRANGE…
    AMBULANCE IS A JEWEL
    BUT IN A FEW MONTHS…..I’LL SAY EXACTLY WHAT I WANNA SAY

  • Thanks Ned, all’s fine in the mental institution. Don’t get daylight much but the food’s great, well it is ever since they took my teeth out so I can’t chew it. I caught the bullet points, and although I’m sure you know what letter comes after H, let me point it out again. It’s I. As in, ‘I tire of your pointless sabre rattling.’

    It’s obviously been pointed out that Murdoch’s australian, and lives in the US mainly due to restrictions of cross media ownership. Not a problem in the US. And why should “Liberal” people refrain from reactionary name-calling? As for free speech, you were the first to ‘Write it down’ not invent it. And you read the Guardian, wow it’s like a regular left wing party over there isn’t it. Bar the morals, of course. And if you are so pissed at this discussion why are you bothering to reply, and you crack me up the way you always put ‘Why do i always enter into these dicussions’ like some bemused comedian. Nobody’s listening chief.

    As for the university stuff, no idea what you mean really. I didn’t get my degree at Oxford or Cambridge, it has made little difference to my life so far. But i’ll keep you posted. I don’t think i have to point out that some of the most dangerous people in the world have been educated at oxford, harvard, etc… And sorry to point this out but if you dedicate a website to your views, don’t get tetchy when people reply with their own opinion. Or just take the site off the web all together. Either way, everyone’s happy.

    I do read your posts ned, the problem is they’re invariably bollocks.

  • Now that’s what Freedom of Speech is… Dufus.

  • just stumbled across this page, and to be honest, was quite impressed by what i’ve seen. what started off as a few haphazard comments about a good album has sparked into quite an interesting conversation, which is, let’s face it, far more interesting.

    i am a brit, and whilst currently despising the american foreign policy and the attitudes and arrogance of the US establishment, i do not feel it is fair to hold all americans responsible. tony blair is not exactly a statesman to be proud of, seeing as he is simply a war-mongering, pandering lap-dog to bush. he may be rather more eloquent, but perhaps this serves only to make him more dangerous.

    i also have to point out that at first i was a little disappointed by the turnout for the NY demonstration, i then realised upon further thought that the main reason for this is that whilst america is much larger country (both in population and area) it is far more sparsely populated. in the uk people travelled from the north and southwest to take part, but remember that england is the same size as new york state, so a comparison is not really valid.

    i imagine that there is mass apathy in the US, but the same exists here (look at the turnout of the last local elections!).

    onto the music thing, i feel that it is wrong to accuse americans of just turning out shit bands such as limp bizkit et al, when there is a thriving underground of interesting artists and projects, just as there is here in the uk. most american material in the charts is, indeed, shit, but all the good stuff is available to buy over here. all this suggests is that it is the record buying public that have no taste when they rush out to buy slipknot albums in their thousands, but sonic youth and tortoise LPs can only limp into the top 100 if they’re lucky.

    i work for a small but very well respected independent label in london who receive rave reviews across the world, but still struggle to sell a couple of thousand albums (aside from our last release which did rather well).

    perhaps who we should be blaming is the playlisters at radio 1 and co, who program shit all day long, and hence ensure the charts are packed with the same banal crap. sure, we have bastions of hope like mr peel (and resonance fm, but let’s face it, how many people listen to it). i don’t feel it’s fair to blame a nation for shoddy musical output, when the only reason it’s popular here is because it is the UK residents who are buying it. to be fair, much of the UK’s exported music is pretty damned embarrassing (robbie williams, coldplay, oasis, the stereo-fucking phonics…i could go on for days).

    anyway, besides all that, on the way to the club is think tank’s stand out track.

    cheers
    olli

  • One question. Why are the british charts so polluted with manufactured rubbish produced in Britain? Answer: to compete with the manufactured rubbish produced in America produced for our charts. It’s all very well being diplomatic olli, but as we’ve seen recently… diplomacy gets you nowhere. We are second in the chain of consumption when it comes to American pop music. We represent a critical milestone rather than a sales one. But all the same, major US bands/singers are flooded into the British market and it affects young talent here. No question.
    Unfortunately Olli, I think America has a lot to answer for. An outwardly aggressive, arrogant policy to toward foreign states should be responded to with aggressive, arrogant arguments against. What was left of a left wing in America has died on its arse largely due to the apathy and wetness. The facts stand that the right wing has a much better PR machine than the left. It’s market forces and ideals that are the centre of modern politics now ? and America is definitely to blame for that. As for the turnouts at marches, it’s a geographical ideal but it doesn’t ring true morally. It was just a shit turnout.

    Yeh, we are a lap dog to Bush. We have little choice. Increasingly indecisive about Europe, needing military protection we have nowhere else to turn. You could see in Blair’s eyes he knew Iraq was the wrong move… but what could he do? You saw the threat of sanctions against France after GW2. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. The only reason I got pissed with little Neddy here is because he’s arguments are flawed and frankly pretty naive.

    So If you want to call me ‘reactionary’ toward america at the moment then fine. I think they deserve it. And I mean that as a country… wholesale. Vote him out and do something useful or shut up. And stop pretending that he didn’t win 60 odd percent of the vote. the president is your ambassador to the world – you do the maths.

    As for music, you’re british olli. Deep down you agree with me even if you can’t admit it in type… ha ha…

  • I seriously dig Blur’s new album. Anyway, I saw them at the Las Vegas show and it was fantastic! What a great experience!

  • Have bought every Blur album ever but really pissed as my computer is my music centre, are the band and the record company that stupid they don?t realize that buy selling albums that wont play on cd drives the fans will be retuning albums to shops and never buying anything from the band again. I personally always buy music rather than download cause i like the artwork, lyrics etc and to lazy to learn how to dl it. However if as it appears there is no way for me to play this album on my comp, the album is going back to the shop and from now on illegal DL”s for all my blur needs. Great job on alienating fans and turning what could be the album which gives you the mainstream success in America you pretend not to want(despite the tours) instead into the album that will lose you loyal fans that have been with you from the start. Did the fact about one in four people now use their comp as music centre and that many of these people myself included no longer own a stereo/hifl system or can afford to own one not cross their minds?, not even a message on cover like wont play on cd drives… plus the 3 minute film you get instead of the album when played on comp absolutely SUCKS…..ahh that?s better had to get that out. If I am wrong and the album can be played on comp and I am doing something wrong somebody please let me know but I don?t think this is the case

  • Found this site when looking for info on blur cd problem must say Alex/Ned spat is great to read at 4am stoned. Anyway here is my badly written pennies worth (Alex note I am pointing out my bad grammar and punctuation now before you do) which reminds me one of the main reasons for my poor English is that it should not be my natural language but it is because your country while ruling my country Ireland imprisoned and murdered people for speaking or learning their native tongue Gaelic. So climb done of your high horse as England committed unspeakable atrocities for the cause of empire (Ireland and India are examples any third party reader can easily find out about) but most English people don?t know it or do not want to acknowledge it and still talk about the good old days of the glorious empire ha-ha. This mentality still exists today in relation to Northern Ireland Bloody Sunday and the recent BBC Panorama show about collusion between British army and Loyalist murder gangs murdering innocent people are examples of this. Anyway went a bit off track there but that seems to be the norm here. Back on the subject of the US debate going on I have a good understanding of both sides as I am from Alex?s side of the pond but currently living in Boston Massachusetts. The statement above was done to prove a point that it is very easy to blame an individual in this case Ned for the actions of a leader of their country, using Alex?s logic Alex is responsible for what his country has done and continues to do in my land so if Alex wants to know what Ned is doing about Bush then equally I want to know what he is doing about above. So while I agree totally with Alex on Iraq, American foreign policy and imposing ones culture on others, he should remember the saying people in glasshouses. To correct an earlier ignorant post bush actually did not get 60% of the vote as claimed and actually got less votes than gore. The reasons he is in power are as follows. The Electoral College system that gives states with more cows than people same power as metropolis states like NY or California. plus a misguided Jewish backlash in Florida against Clinton/Gore Israeli policies which made the crucial difference and a right wing majority on the supreme court which cemented him in power. While on the subject of ignorance, American politicians where referred to as their MP equivalents, umm a non ignorant person would know members off US upper parliament are called congressmen. However I find all of what Alex says about American media true and the average American needs to realize that the likes of Murdoch?s fox news are just right wing propaganda in the same vein as Iraqi state TV and that journalists are not supposed to tell the news with a slant but from a third party perspective giving unbiased coverage off all sides opinions and then should let the people decide for themselves good examples of this being the BBC and Canal +. This neutral reporting is missing in USA and has been since America licked its wounds after Vietnam and was badly missing during build up to Iraq especially in Un/France spat where they fed the public the untrue view France was pro Saddam forgetting they where first to commit troops in first Iraq war and in action in Afghanistan. In reality France just trusted their intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction more than Americas as France has a high Arab population and had done a better job at infiltrating Iraqi system. I however think Ned knows this and would like his fellow countrymen to as well so abusing him wont solve ignorance on this issue and general American ignorance on world issues and their role in the world, plus because people believe what they see on the news average Joe Bloggs in US does not realize they are being misled with c span being the only neutral war coverage we had here. If more Americans knew they where not always getting the full story and that American stations where trying to hard to be more patriotic than their competitors at expense of fair reporting you would see a different outlook on things as I have seen in my flat mates here who watch the BBC news on internet with me every night. So blame the right wing silent take over off power here not the people who don?t realize it has happened and just be grateful for being lucky enough to have the independently minded BBC who set the benchmark for fair broadcasting in Britain without them Alex I fear our side off the waters media would slide to the right to and you would not be able to get all worked up as you also would lack knowledge of world affairs and other cultures like so many here?..more to say but off to bed hope Alex understands better why people here have views they have and hope Ned and other Americans can see thought the fog and take back their media and government from far far right and big business interests where major companies like Monsanto, oil companies and arms manufacturers basically get to decide policy in return for bank ruling election campaigns usually to the detriment of ordinary Americans, the world and the planet we live on?..(before anyone points it out the first part of post the blur rant has been cut and pasted into blur official website as well

  • nismokeysean, that has to be the funniest thing I have read in a long time– i wish more stoned people at 4am would comment on politics, culture, and media…

    at least you understand the difference between an individual and a government– especially when the individual is doing his best in the opposition.

    As I said, I probably agreed with a lot of what Alex said, except for his irrational anti-American tirades.

    Why should I have to be ashamed of being American? Who gets to decide what “American” means, anyway? I’d rather define my own meaning of the word, and I don’t want Mr. Bush speaking for me.

  • Northern Ireland is surely whole new world of shit though. Started by the british and then, funded by, er, those crazy Yanks! (they get everywhere) As for the empire building of GB, that was dare I say quite a few years ago. And not that I condone it, but things were slightly different then Sean. You know, about the same time the Death Penalty was still legal in the UK, and still is in the US! I took a disliking to Ed because of his psuedo-academic ramblings that have given friends I’ve told about it quite a laugh. My point in all of these quotes was: It is about time that they realised the amount of anti-US sentiment that has been created in the rest of the world. And Ned’s reasoning that “Bush doesn’t speak for me” frankly doesn’t wash. Tony Blair speaks for me because he’s the face of Great Britain in terms of politics. I might not agree but he’s democratically elected. The amount of pain, anguish and let’s face it… death they’re causing in the name of Western ideals. They have opened up possibly one of the worst conflicts in an already demolished region, and caused one of the biggest political inquiries in british political history since Profumo. They’ve split the U.N, ignored NATo, offended China, ditched Kyoto, passed legislation to drill for oil in protected land in the North, kept numerous people in Guantanamo Bay without trial or explanation, reignited the Israel/palestine fued, opened the first Burger King in Bagdhad airport, ignored the plight in Liberia (cos let’s face it, there’s no fucking oil there), installed a comedic, puppet government in Iraq, completely screwed the policing process in Iraq… I mean the list is endless. Ignore what I say, just look at the facts. They’re all true. And now, after all that, there’s talk of re-electing the twat. Suckahs for punishment?

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