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Feature: The Essential Blur

By ; April 26, 2013 at 2:00 PM 

Honourable mentions: “Beetlebum,” “No Distance Left to Run”

15. “Sunday Sunday”

A year before these was “Digsy’s Dinner,” there was “Sunday Sunday,” the second best track from Blur’s second album, Modern Life is Rubbish. As it happens, it also portrays an ordinary Englishman’s weekend dinner with his family. Straightforward but bracing, detailed but muscular, embracing a no-nonsense guitar-pop approach in the mold of Weezer and Matthew Sweet.

14. “Bad Head”

Blur’s chemistry was rarely more potent than it was on this lesser-known gem from Parklife. “I might as well just grin and bear it/ Because it’s not worth the trouble of an argument,” sings Albarn, and the music gives you no choice but to empathize with his struggle. Those melancholy horns and trembling organs will be spinning around in your head for days.

13. “Tender”

As he recovered from his breakup with Justine Frischmann, Damon Albarn wrote some of the most heartfelt songs of his career for 13. This is one of them. During the chorus, taking a rare look inward instead of at the world around him. Robust melodies and a bit of experimentalism (adult gospel choir, anyone?) afford “Tender” a surprising amount of gravitas.

12. “London Loves”

What does London love? “The way people just fall apart,” “The way you just don’t stand a chance,” and “The misery of a speeding heart,” to name a few.  So goes the chorus that perfectly captures the British tabloid culture. Its portrayal of a person who is so far removed from the rest of the world that they regress into hedonism is riveting. Feelings of displacement in urban environments aren’t all that uncommon, but this one is pretty cynical, even for the Brits.

11. “Battery in Your Leg”

Graham Coxon’s only contribution to Blur’s final album, “Battery In Your Leg” sounds like 2D of Gorillaz trying to cover Radiohead. “This is a ballad for the good times,” begins Albarn, before the song descends into some rather dark territory. The intensity is continuously heightened as time elapses. This sepia-tinged track gets a lot of mileage from the haunting, dissonant backdrop and fairly unassuming lyrics.

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