Artists of the week: Blur
Though it is undeniable that Blur were one of the polarizing forces of Brit-pop hegemony in the mid-90s, releasing three absolute pop masterpieces that incorporated the sounds of Madchester, shoegazing and classic English guitar groups such as The Kinks, The Beatles and XTC (1993’s Modern Life Is Rubbish, 1994’s Parklife and 1995’s The Great Escape), the truth is that the band quickly went throughout a series of stylistic changes that demonstrated quite insatiable music leanings that went from the lo-fi aesthetic of American indie rock groups (1997’s Blur), gospel and electronic music (1999’s 13) to hip-hop and African and Middle Eastern music (2003’s Think Tank). Throughout a creative peak that lasted over a decade, Blur always remained a highly influential and successful band with five UK #1 albums, twelve UK Top 10 singles and over two million albums sold in the US.
Twelve years after their last studio album, Blur are finally back with their original line-up (Graham Coxon had left the band during the recording of Think Thank) with The Magic Whip, an hitless album that nevertheless showcases a band that plays tighter than ever with a loose sound that indicates its jam sessions origin. But its biggest achievement is undoubtedly the fact that it is Blur’s first record that truly finds an absorbing common ground between the divergent interests of its two main composers (Coxon’s Sci-Fi folk and Damon’s bottomless music interests). Any fan will find no obstacles in loving it and newcomers will find more than enough reasons to investigate their fascinating discography.
João Pedro da Costa is a web studies scholar and a music fan.