LESS IS MORE. Or is that always true? Blur sure think so. With their latest self-titled release, the thinking man's Brit-poppers strip down the excess of 1994's Parklife and 1995's The Great Escape--both wonderfully satiric Polaroids of London lives. Now, apparently, the inspiration flows from the other side of the Atlantic: Name-checking both Pavement and Beck in recent interviews, Blur's lead singer/songwriter Damon Albarn raves about indie America's talent and experimentalism.
"I feel Heavy Metal," Albarn sarcastically screams on "Song 2," a parody of the grunge revolution Blur also railed against on their critically heralded commercial flop Modern Life is Rubbish way back in 1993. But where that album was ripe with a Mod sensibility--clean lines, sharp tunes, and impeccable design--Blur is a reinvention. Rougher, noisier, and less centered on character studies, it's closer to the band's debut, Leisure, than anything they've recorded since. But unlike that album's juvenile lyrics and bonhomie, new songs like "Chinese Bombs" and "On Your Own" are jaded and raw.
Blur's newly aggressive, guitar-based assault deconstructs the string, brass, and keyboard-centered approach of their most recent glories, an approach that proved to be simultaneously catchy and precious. They've apparently asked themselves the hard questions--like, how many horn breaks are too many horn breaks--and reformed their ways. Which proves (yet again) that it's hard to get the best of both worlds with Blur. When you want sweet, melodic pop they throw a wrench into the plans. And vice versa. (Matt Keppel)
Blur perform June 25 at First Avenue; call 338-8388.
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