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Blur - The Magic Whip (Album Review)

Tuesday, 28 April 2015 Written by James Ball

Photo: Linda Brownlee

Blur’s first album for 12 years...12 long years. It’s a hell of a time for any fan of any band to wait, but there were few, post-’Think Tank’, with enough optimism on tap to think that this day would ever arrive.

It takes roughly 12 seconds for the Graham Coxon-less ‘Think Tank’ to become a distant memory as Lonesome Street sounds, for the most part, like 1996 all over again. Blur are back, and they’re doing exactly what everyone hoped they would do.

They have taken the spirit of Britpop and embraced it, without resorting to parody. This is no flashback to ‘Modern Life is Rubbish’, neither is it a reworking of ‘13’. It’s certainly nothing like any of Albarn or Coxon’s efforts from their respective solo careers.

If anything, ‘The Magic Whip’ is something of a grab bag of their greatest hits. There are little bits of everything that made them sound fresh, unique and even laddish, with ears still plugged in for that killer hook, dreamy string sequence, or excuse to just lose it.

Cheese and politics may be the day jobs now, but music is still the passion. No matter how close the feuds of the millennium came to putting the band to bed permanently, this comeback is a reflection of the chemistry that drove Blur’s finest moments.

Particular highlights include the rocking, infectious I Broadcast, a song that encapsulates the early pessimism surrounding Blur’s future as Albarn yells about creating “something out of nothing”. My Terracotta Heart is a ticking, rhythmic stomper. “I’m running out of heartache,” Albarn croons over a complex, percussive beat, dreamy bass and some tentatively picked guitar.

Then there’s Go Out, a marching, heavy cut that grabs by the lugholes and pulls with all of its monstrous might, and the contrasting Thought I was a Spaceman, a song that exists up there with Major Tom, hoping and praying that Ground Control doesn’t actually come and save him.

There are no instant hits in the vein of Girls and Boys or Parklife, nor the threat of the chart battle that ended with Country House earning far greater prominence among Blur songs than it should have. Blur are known for their singles, and the masses will gather in Hyde Park in a couple of months hoping to hear The Universal, Coffee & TV and Song 2, but this album is, as many of their career peaks have been, a complete statement. It’s a beautifully crafted package, wrapped in a frenetic bow. Whether there will be further Blur records is one for the clairvoyants, but if we have to wait until 2027, they had better be as good as this.

Blur Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sat June 20 2015 - LONDON Hyde Park

Click here to compare & buy Blur Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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