Everything Is Nice

Beating the nice nice nice thing to death (with fluffy pillows)

Archive for September 1st, 2009

The Death Of The Party

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A couple of months ago I saw one of Blur’s wonderful reunion gigs in Hyde Park then immediately went on holiday and promptly forgot about them. I’ve been getting nostalgic again recently though. First there was Truck then I read this review of Midlife: A Beginner’s Guide To Blur. That review revived my interest again, making me dig out The Great Escape just to listen to He Thought Of Cars and reminding me that I never got round to buying Think Tank.

Blur have always been a band of two halves. You could carve two brilliant and very different albums out of their Brtipop trilogy: one of brash character studies and one of millenial angst. As they started to kick against their previous work, themselves and each other with Blur this continued. It has never been quite as jarring as the transition from Out Of Time to Crazy Beat on this album though. The latter was produced by Norman Cook (AKA Fatboy Slim) and on the first listen seems out of place. After a couple of listens I realised something unexpected: this is Damon Albarn’s drug album (and, equally unexpectedly, this is a good thing). It is most baldly indicated by Brothers And Sisters with its laundry list of pharmaceuticals and declaration that “we are all drug takers” but it imbues the whole album right from Ambulance, the opening track, with its mantra “I ain’t got, nothing to be scared of”. Ecstasy, and to a lesser extent ketamine, hover behind almost all the songs. In this context Crazy Beat is a burst of euphoria and the similarly discordant We’ve Got A File On You is a moment of heart attack paranoia. The general tone is more relaxed, loved up but easing down:

So I stayed in the club
Just rewarding myself
Happiness turned into something else
And I just wanna be, darling with you
The music’s made that way

The brutal come down hasn’t arrived but it is definitely approaching. Not surprisingly given where Blur have come from Think Tank is an album about winding down, about drawing a line, and it is appropriate that Graham Coxon’s sole contribution was to Battery In Your Leg, the final track: “This is a ballad for the good times.” It is a line weighed down with history and I’m glad it wasn’t quite the end of Blur.

Written by Martin

1 September 2009 at 20:04

Posted in music

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