Damon Albarn could have an offshore tax account and get away with it. He could have missed a penalty at the Euros and gotten away with it. But one thing he won’t get away with is tarnishing the reputation of one of this country’s finest ever bands.
Much excitement had been stirred up prior to them debuting two new songs on Monday evening. It was the first ever performance streamed live on Twitter, their first new material since ‘Fools Day’ was released and it proved to be the first time they’d let their fans down in…well, ages.
The two songs sounded glib, plodding and wholly disappointing. After so much ‘will they, won’t they’ this is what the Princes of Britpop produced. Parts of ‘The Puritan’ sounded truly painful with some uncharacteristically off-key and humdrum vocals. ‘Under The Westway’ faired mildly better, with a bit more Coxon action to brighten affairs, though all-in-all it still sounded like a half-finished demo rather than a triumphant return. If there were redeeming features, I couldn’t hear them.
It is not with hatred or malice that I throw these stones but love. As a child of the late 80s Blur pretty much sound tracked my formative years. Every album is owned. The majority of songs still memorized. Watching their Glastonbury set still gives me goosebumps.
And it is because of this that I don’t want to see their legend diminshed by releases that are definitively sub-par. The myth of their brilliance fermented for a decade in the wilderness. The reclamation of their throne in 2009 cemented them as British icons and dispelled any lingering doubts critics had about their importance.
There seems to be an in-built myth or snobbery that reunions without new material are some kind of nepotistic land grab; the big pay day to top up those piles of gold. Ever since they announced their reunion the pressure for a new album has been incessant and seems to finally have taken hold.Blur are bigger and better than any such mudslinging and, if new material isn’t going to enhance their catalogue, should follow Pulp’s example and only release it if it feels right.
And if Damon thinks these two tracks are right, well then he’s clearly went a bit wonky after all this Dr Dee malarky. I’m sure some fans will disagree, and convince themselves that these tracks are new jewels to adorn Blur’s already glistening mantlepiece of hits. All I can say to that is you knew instantly tracks like ‘Parklife’, ‘Beetlebum’ and ‘Charmless Man’ were hits – there was no convincing about it.
On a side note – what was going on with Alex James shorts as well ??? Seriously unnerving.