Album: The Magic Whip
Label: Warner Brothers
Release Date: 04/28/2015
Oasis was a very important band to me as a child. For much of my youth, I would stubbornly listen only to music made before 1970. Somehow, I discovered Oasis. Since they make music that sounds like it was made before 1970 (specifically if it was made by the Beatles), they were not only my bridge to all music made after that, but also an immediate, all-time favorite band. Naturally, I hated Blur for a while. Even if you weren’t fiercely loyal to Oasis after the “Battle of Britpop,” it’s very easy to write Blur off, like many Americans have, as the band with the “woo hoo” song. Of course, the unspoken secret of the famous rivalry is that Blur really is a better band. (Don’t tell 14 year old me I said that.)
The Magic Whip is Blur’s first album since 2003’s Think Tank, and the first with guitarist Graham Coxon since 1999’s 13. An innovative and unique player (peep the bursts of delay that propel “I Broadcast”), it’s wonderful to have him back in the fold. Album opener “Lonesome Street” has those big “Parklife” chords with Graham on co-lead vocals with frontman Damon Albarn. While the song rules, it’s a bit of a red herring, as nothing else here sounds like it could’ve came from the band’s early years. The second track, “New World Towers,” is plodding and temporarily throws off the album’s momentum, before lead single “Go Out,” an awesome feedback heavy, groove monster, kicks the album into gear for real. Sometimes you forget Albarn also fronted one of the biggest pop bands in recent history with Gorillaz (like on his plodding and boring solo record), but this album is overflowing with hooks. It floats along at a charming, laid back pace as basically every song wiggles its way into your head. It’s lovely to have this truly great band back and in peak form.