19 June 2013

Blur - Think Tank

No - you are not misread this. For the people who visit the blog regularly and who know me in real life, I have a problem with Blur; actually to be precise I have a problem with the lead singer and the album called The Great Escape. In my mind I have a bus where all the people and things I dislike is heading toward a cliff, the bus cannot slow down as there is a bomb on it that will blow it is drops below 80 miles an hour and there is also a meteorite heading towards it.  The singer of Blur Mr Damon Alburn is strapped to the front of this bus, clockwork orange style.  That is the level of distain I hold this band in.  Now as part of this blog I do like to push myself in what I review and try to avoid my own beaten track at times, so what better way to do this than to go towards one of the things I am known for having a slight issue with?  Maybe my tastes have changed, let's find out?

Now this was the last album before Graham Coxon and before their first break up (how I laughed that day).  It was recorded from 2001 onwards till its release in 2003, and had three main producers (Fatboy Slim - aka Norman Cook from The Housemartins, Ben Hillier and William Orbit.  Along with the break since the last album, the band had been bitching about each other’s side projects, Graham Coxon had came out of rehab and decided to leave, hence not much of his sound on the album.  Also after the last release "13" which whilst successful was deemed uncommercial (as if that is anything to do with what was going on), the band decided to go down a more accessible route.  Now I'm not the biggest fan here, but this album is nothing like their other stuff.  This album has more in common with Chemical Brothers than The Great Escape.  This is a major plus point already, as is the sleeve art work by Banksy.

Now one of the few things I have liked from Blur has always been the afforementioned Mr Coxon.  His punk-esque guitar tone and knack of managing to get me to like the odd tune by this motley crew (there was a couple) was  always a thorn in my side musically.  Also the fact he slagged off the song "Country House" made him a weird hero even though he played on it, he actually only appears on one song - "Battery In Your Leg".  The guitar work on this album is hidden, at some points it might as well not be there - but when it is on show like on "We've Got A File On You" it is most welcome.  But that is not a problem with this album, for an album that was trying to be commercial it is even more off the beaten track for your average music fan than will be willing to treat. I cannot imagine a person who like Kylie Minogue and Scissor Sisters would have also have purchased this when it came out. It is a little early 00's hipster to be honest in tone, a little preachy in lyrics as well with the lyrics being about love, war and being a pacifist.

It has a few pieces on this album just fail to engage me.  The likes of "Caravan" and "Sweet Song" just drag past.  Yet for these few moments I have to say this is one of the most interesting records I have heard from Blur in their whole career.  From the opening of "Ambulance" via the trio of single to the glorious ending of "Battery In Your Leg", I was reminded that sometimes people who you don't expect much from can surprise you.  On the outstanding "Jets" you have a bass line which is more dirty than most things I hear on a Today Is The Day album, even Albarn's voice is not as annoying; this might have something to do with the mockney is nowhere to be seen.  This has been in many albums of the 00's and albums of 2003 lists - I can actually see why.  Still hate "Country House" though, terrible song, just terrible.....

8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart (but I still hate Country House....lots and lots and lots....) ;-)

You can purchase from here

You can visit the band's website here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

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