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Rock - Released July 30, 2012 | Parlophone UK

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Rock - Released September 11, 1995 | Parlophone UK

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Rock - Released July 30, 2012 | Parlophone UK

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Rock - Released July 30, 2012 | Parlophone UK

In 1997, after helping define ’90s Britpop, Blur unexpectedly embraced American indie rock. Led by guitarist Graham Coxon's love of artists like Dinosaur Jr. and Beck, the band took cues from the former's trembling lo-fi aesthetic on "You're So Great" (the rare track sung by Coxon) and the latter's early laconic weirdness on songs "Killer for Your Love" and "Country Sad Ballad Man." But even if you take the boys out of Brittania, you can't take the national influences out of the band. Opener "Beetlebum", a dreamy ode to drugs, comes on like a lost late-era Beatles track. "M.O.R." slips and slides with Pavement-style guitar but also lifts a chord progression right from Bowie’s "Boys Keep Swinging", while "Strange News From Another Star" is Sebadoh by way of Ziggy Stardust. But it's "Song 2" that steals the show; with its rip-roaring bass line, Damon Albarn’s deadpan-to-shout vocals, fuzzed-out guitars and compulsive "Whoo-hoo!" it’s an immediate classic. © Qobuz
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Rock - Released April 25, 1994 | Parlophone UK

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Rock - Released July 30, 2012 | Parlophone UK

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Rock - Released May 10, 1993 | Parlophone UK

As a response to the dominance of grunge in the U.K. and their own decreasing profile in their homeland -- and also as a response to Suede's sudden popularity -- Blur reinvented themselves with their second album, Modern Life Is Rubbish, abandoning the shoegazing and baggy influences that dominated Leisure for traditional pop. On the surface, Modern Life may appear to be an homage to the Kinks, David Bowie, the Beatles, and Syd Barrett, yet it isn't a restatement, it's a revitalization. Blur use British guitar pop from the Beatles to My Bloody Valentine as a foundation, spinning off tales of contemporary despair. If Damon Albarn weren't such a clever songwriter, both lyrically and melodically, Modern Life could have sunk under its own pretensions, and the latter half does drag slightly. However, the record teems with life, since Blur refuse to treat their classicist songs as museum pieces. Graham Coxon's guitar tears each song open, either with unpredictable melodic lines or layers of translucent, hypnotic effects, and his work creates great tension with Alex James' kinetic bass. And that provides Albarn a vibrant background for his social satires and cutting commentary. But the reason Modern Life Is Rubbish is such a dynamic record and ushered in a new era of British pop is that nearly every song is carefully constructed and boasts a killer melody, from the stately "For Tomorrow" and the punky "Advert" to the vaudeville stomp of "Sunday Sunday" and the neo-psychedelic "Chemical World." Even with its flaws, it's a record of considerable vision and excitement. [Most American versions of Modern Life Is Rubbish substitute the demo version of "Chemical World" for the studio version on the British edition. They also add the superb single "Pop Scene" before the final song, "Resigned."] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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Blur in the magazine
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