This album came out in 1994 and is considered one of the defining moments in the then-emerging Britpop scene. It was also instrumental in getting Blur back into the charts as the previous album (Modern Life Is Rubbish) didn't do too well. The first single was the electro-pop influenced "Girls & Boys". This was their (at the time) biggest hit since "There's No Other Way" but unlike that song, it didn't rip off the early 90's "Baggy" sound. It wasn't too bad and the video (The band performing in front of a blue-screen imposion of people on Club 18-30 holidays) was on MTV quite a bit (This was when MTV actually showed music videos instead of shit reality shows that glorify teen pregnancy but I digress). Onto the album...
The biggest problem for me is the vocals. They're sang in a very over exaggerated Cockney accent which starts to grate very quickly. True, most Britpop bands sang in their own accents (Oasis, Cast, Catatonia) and there is nothing wrong with that but if you're trying to force an accent, it's going to sound shit. 'Mary Poppins' is a prime example. Now Damon Albarn may be an extremely nice fella for all I know (He's certainly done his bit for charity) but his vocals on this album fucking suck!!! The accent is too forced and it doesn't sound natural whatsoever. Whether this was to make an artistic impression or to try and sound more 'cool' and 'street', I've no idea but look at Vanilla Ice, he pretended he was a rough, tough gangbanger when in fact he was a rich white-boy and that killed his career. Trying to sound like a "Lahndan Taaaahn geezah" didn't kill Blur's career but it did become a weapon for their detractors.
The music is quite good, however. It's got a mixture of a few influences ranging from the aforementioned electro-pop of "Girls & Boys", the punk rock (Or a close approximation) of "Bank Holiday", the waltz-timing of "Debt Collector". The title track is a very jaunty number which includes vocals by British actor Phil Daniels (Who was Striper in 'Scum' and Kevin Wicks in 'Eastenders' amongst appearances in movie 'Goodbye Charlie Bright' and the flatulent barfly Terry in 'Time Gentlemen Please'). It's certainly a mixed bag and like all mixed bags, it won't be to everyone's tastes but there should be at least something in there for everyone. The band certainly put their heads together to create something sonically special (If not vocally) although at 16 tracks, there is a bit much filler as well. If they'd shortened it to, say, 10 tracks then it would've been a much better album for it. Production was handled by a chap called Stephen Street who also did work for The Smiths and Morrisey (Must've made a change working on some cheery songs for a change) as well as The Cranberries. He gets the production job just right.
Well, there you go. Before I give my mark, Eddie Carter would've given this a -2. The mark I give is to reflect the music, arrangements and production - based on the fact that it's well put together and certainly a mixed bag but there is a few too many filler tracks on there. The vocals suck to high heaven however, and that's my opinion. If you don't like it then - in the words of WWF New Age Outlaws - I got TWO WORDS FOR YA!!!...
6/10 - Now I can see where you're going but you're not quite there.
You can buy this album off iTunes.