[one_half last=”no”]
Blur - The Magic Whip

NBHAP Rating: 4,3/5


[one_half last=”yes”]BLUR
The Magic Whip

Release-Date: 27.04.2015
Label: Warner

01. Lonesome Street
02. New World Towers
03. Go Out
04. Ice Cream Man
05. Thought I Was a Spaceman
06. I Broadcast
07. My Terracotta Heart
08. There Are Too Many of Us
09. Ghost Ship
10. Pyongyang
11. Ong Ong
12. Mirror Ball




A brief moment in time

Working with Damon Albarn is also always a question of the right time management. At least that’s the impression one can get from the outside. So, yes a new BLUR album was always possible. Well, if it fits in the tight schedule of one of pop music’s most active figures. The Britpop band, especially Albarn and Graham Coxon, buried the hatchet back in 2009 and played triumphant comeback shows. Okay, they released three new stand-alone songs in the past six years while the whole world was waiting for their first studio album since 2003. It might have arrived earlier but Albarn has been busy with GORILLAZ, opera projects, his own very good solo album, organizing compilations, producing other artists and all these things. Destiny was in favour of BLUR and when the Tokyo Rocks Music Festival got cancelled in May 2013 and the group was stranded in Hong Kong for five more days they used the small time frame to record a dozen of songs. It was a raw, intense but creative recording session but it almost got lost as Albarn continued with the recording of Everyday Robots. The brief window in time closed once again. Thank god, Coxon managed to open it again last autumn when he convinced his bandmate to take a second look together with producer Stephen Street. Albarn gave his OK, wrote a few more lyrics and that’s how The Magic Whip more or less happened.

Ignoring any expectations

You’ll see: the story of BLUR‘s first studio album in over a decade is as spontaneous as possible. The way The Magic Whip came together leaves no doubt that there wasn’t a big masterplan behind it. It’s just four lads who renewed their friendship and continued where they left us at the beginning of the 21st century. Yes, the expectations are high but the British four-piece got no plans to fulfil your hopes although they ironically might achieve that in the end. The Magic Whip is not the comeback of Britpop; it’s not frozen in time. It’s just BLUR making another record. They are not in their Twenties anymore and Albarn is done singing about Parklife or Girls and Boys. Now, it’s all about Lonesome Street. The opener takes us right back to the strength of BLUR‘s glory 90s days. A clear bow to the past, dressed up in a lovely reduced new costume. Still, the band moves forward as the tender New World Tower brings some tender exotic flavour to the well-known recipe. Go Out combines the gentle lo-fi spirit of Think Thank with an ultra-cool groove while Albarn is fighting with his own motivation to join the city’s shimmering night life as he sings: ‘I’m gettin’ sad alone/ Dancing with myself.’

Looks like they made it

Albarn never lost its touch to write great pop songs in the past years but it’s really lovely so see those songs unfold their beauty in the environment of his old buddies. The Magic Whip combines the old qualities of BLUR while also making sure that this is no ‘retro’ show we’re attending. Sure, we have songs like Ong Ong with its undeniable nod to the Country House-times of the band and I Broadcast‘s dirty garage rock sound that continues where 13 left but there’s also room for interesting new ideas. The hypnotic Thought I Was A Spaceman is a hidden gem of the album, starting slow on a tender electronic beat before evolving into something much bigger. And the sunny vibes of Ghost Ship would work really great on a beach this summer. Diversified, intelligent and also surprisingly contemporary. ‘And we all believe in praying / For our immortality’ sings Albarn in There Are Too Many Of Us, one of the strongest songs on The Magic Whip, making sure that he still analysis this society even if the world changed a lot since Parklife. Or maybe it actually didn’t that much. The world didn’t need a BLUR reunion but with such a strong album like The Magic Whip we surely can say: thank god there is another one! A surprising record that works as a great reminder of the band’s legacy and maybe even as a stimulus for a new generation of musicians. The demand for it is too damn high anyway.

That’s how you deliver a proper comeback. BLUR combine past, present and future and deliver an album that makes us entirely forget the long road leading towards ‘The Magic Whip.’