Blur - Blur

by Bob Coyne Rating: Release Date:1997-01-17

Having found himself at a creative cul-de-sac with 1995's The Great Escape, Damon Albarn bought a flat in Iceland and set about re-evaluating his role in Blur. What emerged was a more soulful, democratised sound. Gone were the Kinks-influenced vignettes about life in suburban England, to be replaced by a more cathartic approach. Grunge influences, for so long off-limits, were now detectable in the loose, angularity of tracks like "Country Sad Ballad Man" and "Song 2". Sensing that this might just be his moment, Blur's resident hard-core fan Graham Coxon is the driving momentum behind much of the band's fifth album. And yet, accidentally or not, some sense of Englishness lingers--be it the Specials' "Ghost Town" on "Theme from Retro", early David Bowie on the desolate "Strange News from Another Star" or the Beatles on "Beetlebum". Ambitious it might have been, but the sheer quality of these songs made Blur their biggest seller to date. This truly is the great escape. --Peter Paphides

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