Flashback to the ‘90s, a time of scrunchies, neon overalls and classic power pop jams. While we were fighting amongst ourselves over the greatest music icons of our time like *NSYNC vs. Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears vs. Christina Aguilera, the Brits were focused on an entirely different battle of the bands—Oasis vs. Blur.
The former was a “Wonderwall” of talent, if you will, with Noel Gallagher and his brother taking charge over a slowed-down rock-pop band. The latter, on the other hand, was a dynamic, eclectic and downright grungy group that made alt rockers “Woo-hoo!” with hits like “Song 2.” While it was pretty clear who won the battle of the bands stateside (bucket hats off to you, Britney and Backstreet), music journalists still have a hard time picking a winner from across the pond. Flash-forward to 2015, and it’s pretty clear that Blur’s newest record, Magic Whip, gives them a leg up on the decades-long competition.
Magic Whip, Blur’s first studio album in over 12 years, just goes to prove that the rockers have grown up without growing old. Sure, you have the hallmarks of a typical Blur record, what with punky-pop hooks like on “Lonesome Street” and strikingly bleak strums like on “There are Too Many of Us” (which was inspired by the 2014 Sydney hostage crisis). Even so, this is still a very different Blur record. It’s clear that frontman Damon Albarn’s past work with trip hop group Gorillaz has left an impression on Blur’s new sound, pushing Magic Whip’s soundscape intro mysterious, synth-filled waters with Bowie-esque delights like “Thought I Was a Spaceman” and “Go Out.”
Take note, post-‘90s Britpop rockers: if you’re looking for a model of both style and substance, look no further than Blur and their Magic Whip, particularly “My Terracotta Heart,” “Go Out,” “Lonesome Street” and “There are Too Many of Us.”