In 1996, rumours are Blur nearly broke up. The pressures of Britpop, fame and all that went with it were proving too much. But somehow they did keep it together, and headed to Iceland to rest, regroup and record. They dropped the burdens of their Britpop image and reinvented themselves as an alternative band, a band with lo-fi sounding songs and lots of guitar noise, a more American sound, a sound that reflected Graham Coxon's musical tastes.
Along with Parklife and the Best of, this album is a great album for a new Blur fan to start with. It has everything that Blur have come to be known for. There are the poppy moments (On Your Own, MOR), the organ lead instrumental (Theme From Retro), the character song (Country Sad Ballad Man), the emotional moments (Beetlebum), the rockers (Movin' On) and of course... the very (in)famous Song 2. All of these moments are rawer than anywhere else on Blurs discs, thanks to the lofi production. It makes for Blurs heaviest sounding disc to date. Woohoo!
Though its not all like Song 2. If you get the album thinking it's going to be all like that, you're going to be dissapointed. The textures vary from the smoky atmosphere of the creepy "Death of a Party", the White Album feel of "Beetlebum", to even the tripped out Beck-style country of "Country Sad Ballad Man"
It's interesting to hear this album in hindsight. In the electronica tinged "On Your Own" you can hear the sounds and styles that Damon Albarn would later develop with Gorillaz, and Graham Coxon's scratchy song "You're So Great" points forward to his lo-fi solo career. The spacey feel, experimentation and the jamming heard on "Strange News From Another Star" and "Essex Dogs
" would be further developed on Blurs next album, 13.
A must for Blur fans!