With talk of Noel and Liam Gallagher temporarily settling their differences for a reformation of Oasis, Blur have continued the ‘Britpop Battle’ between the two bands and beaten them to it releasing their new album The Magic Whip today. It’s always a bit risky for a band to come back and release new material after many of being inactive – after all will people still receive them in the same way they used to, will their sound be different and, frankly, are they past their prime? But long gone are the young rebels with dodgy haircuts and instead we now have a reformed Blur breaking their twelve year silence to reform and being us a great new album which shows just this.
Thankfully this isn’t the case for Blur whose lead singer Damon Albarn is still releasing records and playing gigs and festivals. Ong Ong hears the elated themes and melodies similar of classics like Girls and Boys but sees the band steering their sound in a new direction of jovial acoustics and harmonised choruses. Singing ‘I wanna be with you’ over bouncy piano chords, powerful electric guitar riffs and repeated ‘la la la’s’ from the other band members, Albarn’s telling a story and how would we not want to be with him too. The track’s so upbeat and lighthearted that you can’t really be anything but happy about the band’s comeback, even if you are one of Noel’s monobrowed prodigies. It really is a new sound for Blur with them showing us less of the brash and impulsive nature of the band’s youth, whether you miss this or not, it’s certainly an interesting development. After all, no one really wants a twelve year old rendition of Parklife.
The rest of The Magic Whip certainly lives up to it’s name with alluring and almost exotic sounds showing how such a long break really changes a band and lets them develop. Being the penultimate track on the album, Ong Ong particularly stands out because of the sheer amount of development it shows the band have undergone stepping away from their riotous political views of post 21st century England to focus more upon the music itself making it one of our favourite new releases.
Words by William Castile