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



  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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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