DAMON Albarn recently spoke on Irish radio about the origins of the first Blur album in 16 years (The Magic Whip, Parlophone/Warners) with the completed line up.
While touring Asia in the spring of 2013, a music festival – Tokyo Rock – was abruptly called off due to disorganised management.
With a five-day break in their schedule and no dates to attend to, they took shelter in a tiny recording studio in Hong Kong, jamming with no goal in mind.
The 15 songs they drafted up were set aside once they got back on tour.
Almost a year later, Graham Coxon revisited the tracks and, after roping in Blur’s early producer Stephen Street, presented the material to the band. Last year, they set about editing and cobbling together the ideas that were born from these sessions.
This was in contrast to social media updates previously distributed a year before by on/off producer William Orbit that relations within the band were less than cordial.
In an era that is coming to be defined by surprise releases, maybe the most surprising of all –apart from Bowie’s – is Blur’s latest; surprising because in contrast to, say, The Stone Roses, it’s always felt (no matter how much they might have denied it) that there was always creative ground still to be covered.
This was proven by the superb Under The Westway single from 2012, which was their anthem of that summer tour.
The gigs of that time, including an appearance at Oxegen 2011, could only have been supported by nostalgia for a brief period.
No more looking back, then, as this is an album bulging with as many ideas and as much energy as any of Blur’s, or – perhaps more importantly – any of their now contemporaries.
Key tracks include My Terracotta Heart, which deals with Albarn’s and Cox’s oftentimes difficult relationship; the single, Lonesome Street, which is undeniably Blur; and New World Towers, echoing the themes of paranoia to the dubby Ghost Ship – with these, there’s plenty to keep the listener engaged.
Key tracks: Lonesome Street, My Terracotta Heart, Mirrorball.
Release date: April 27.