First Listen: Comeback Album 'The Magic Whip' Breathes New Life Into Blur
Like a British summertime, album No.8 is both familiar and surprising at the same time…
The fact that Blur's new album The Magic Whip even exists is all down to luck.
Thanks to a few jamming sessions during downtime in Hong Kong, it was guitarist Graham Coxon who realised the recordings could have potential.
The record's backstory is part of its appeal; Damon Albarn returning to the East Asian city to lay down vocals and the involvement of Stephen Street (long-time Blur producer), right up until the band broke the news in a Chinese restaurant earlier this year.
Opening track and the April release's third single, ‘Lonesome Street’, is Blur through the ages – ‘There’s No Other Way’, ‘Country House’, ‘Beetlebum’, ‘Coffee & TV’ - all wrapped up into a four minute and 22 second hit.
Track two, ‘New World Towers’, hones in on the “lonesome” themes of this record, Albarn comments on the urban sprawl of Hong Kong, it’s a page out of Everyday Robots, the frontman’s 2014 solo record.
If you haven’t been chanting “TO THE L-O-O-O-O-CAL” religiously since February you probably haven’t heard ‘Go Out’. The band’s infectious lead single is one of the highlights of this album, it’s tailor-made for the festivals, one word: Britpop.
‘There Are Two Many Of Us’ voices Damon’s deep concerns on population control - touching upon it more than once. The LP's second single builds in energy and delivers a crashing blow to humanity while carrying a serious message. It's remeniscent of just how much the record is inspired by the over-populated city.
‘Thought I Was A Spaceman’ continues in a similar vein to ‘New World Towers’, forming the quieter, more melancholic parts of this record and Damon sounds as if he’s questioning his own existence (and ego) at times.
He sings: “Thought I Was A Spaceman, digging out my heart, in some distant sand dune in a car park,” turns out later in the song, he finds it in Hyde Park.
‘Pyongyang’ is another one of the album’s big talking points, with the band drawing their attention to the North Korean capital. Damon speaks of his inspiration from first hand experience with the lyrics: “Obey the great leaders,” he sings. “Temperature keeps falling, soon there will be no light.”
Twelve years is the gap between The Magic Whip and 2003’s Think Tank yet it still sounds as fresh as ever, despite the falling outs over the years. Their latest LP has breathed new life into the band, but let’s be honest, they never really lost it.
The Magic Whip is out April 27...