REVIEW: Blur – The Magic Whip


blur-themagicwhipBritpop giants Blur are back with their first album in 12 years and are proving that not only do they still have the goods, they also may have years of good music in front of them.

That is, of course, if they decide that The Magic Whip isn’t their last hurrah or a just temporary moment of inspiration between long hiatuses. Either way, The Magic Whip serves as an exclamation mark on their career as well as something that feels like a fresh new start.

There are some eccentricities here that require a few listens to appreciate, such as the bouncy “Ice Cream Man” or the dreary “Thought I Was a Spaceman,” but there’s also some instantly catchy upbeat tracks like “Lonesome Street,” “Go Out” and “I Broadcast” that feel like Blur never left. The more laid-back “Ghost Ship” and “Ong Ong” also stand out as highlights, as does “My Terrocota Heart,” a touching song about frontman Damon Albarn’s sometimes-strained friendship with guitarist Graham Coxon.

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In its own little world is “Pyongyang,” a song Albarn wrote after a trip to the North Korean capital. The setting and subject matter of the song fit in to the album given the fact that the album was conceived during a stay in nearby Hong Kong and some songs in the album touch on world issues, but it’s still surreal to share Albarn’s musical vision of the hermit kingdom, complete with (presumably) references to the famous Kim statues that are a trademark of the city:

Kid the mausoleum’s fallen
And the perfect avenues
Will seem empty without you
And the pink light that bathes the great leaders
Is fading
By the time your sun is rising there
Out here it’s turning blue
The silver rockets coming
And the cherry trees, Pyongyang,
I’m leaving

A final highlight is “Mirrorball,” the album-closing ballad that sounds a bit like that Hobbit song but serves as a moving farewell to the Hong Kong setting and a poignant coda to Blur’s comeback statement.

The Magic Whip is a strong addition to Blur’s catalog and also creates intrigue for where the band might go from here. Let’s hope The Magic Whip is a sign that Blur isn’t quite ready to ease off into the parklife just yet.

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2 comments to “REVIEW: Blur – The Magic Whip”
  1. I love how they’ve gotten a bit more electronic, a bit more experimental. Reminds me of a more accessible Flaming Lips…

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