Tuesday, 3 July 2012

REVIEW: Blur - 'Under The Westway'/'The Puritan' - listen

Two brand new tracks from Blur, in the run up to their massive '21' boxset and huge Hyde Park gig. 

'Under The Westway' yearns for a simpler time, built on a series of beautiful series of piano chords, big suspense building drum rumbles and deep, intricately picked bass notes. Damon's fragile, soul searching vocal tells of a changing world where "men in yellow jackets putting adverts inside my dreams" now inhabit a place "where the money always comes first". Albarn is at his sorrowful best while Coxon's guitar rings out with ghostly notes. Well and truly majestic. It almost suggests a more weighty relative of 'Best Days' from 'The Great Escape', as well as hinting at the joyous melodies of 'To The End' and 'Tender'. It also comes across as something not to dissimilar to a hybrid of 'Let It Be' and 'A Whiter Shade Of Pale' yet it still doesn't imitate either song, it has its very own character and is unmistakeably Blur. Certainly the finest thing out of the many tracks that Damon has been involved in the last decade, it just shows that Blur still brings out the very best in him.

'The Puritan' is a lot madder, built on tricky drum machine rhythms and quirky, energetic acoustic strumming before slipping into a bass heavy post-dubstep chorus accompanied by screeching Coxon guitars and trademark "la la la la"s. In many ways, this is what a lot of people hoped 'Think Tank' would sound like, taking some of the punkier elements of Blur's sound circa 'Modern Life Is Rubbish' and upgrading it with the technology that has advanced since. Thankfully, the upbeat tone suggests that the four band members are having tremendous fun and are enjoying creating new music together, and that can only be a good sign. Especially for those of us who would be overjoyed at the prospect of a new album. 

Maybe rather than commit themselves to making a whole new album, perhaps releasing a couple of tracks every so often makes hearing new music from Blur even more special and exciting. But one things for sure, they are still more than capable of producing magical moments, and if these two tracks are anything to go by, this legendary band's legacy will continue to grow in stature. Despite years of inactivity and these four men leading their own separate lives, for many people Blur are just as vital and thrilling now as they were when they took the nation by storm back in 1994.

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