Pop music is fun. Everyone admits that at one time or another in their. Sure, people like to hide behind their elitist veils of snobbery under the guise of being a music aficionado. However, I can guarantee you that 90% (or more) of the individuals will sing along and tap their feet to just about any song on the Billboard Top 40. Britpop happens to be one of the more tasteful and eclectic genres of pop music. While it’s a genre with firm roots in indie music, it also manages to the maintain radio-friendliness of typical, mainstream pop music. There been plenty of bands to dabble in this genre. However, few have been as prominent as Blur. Originally formed in 1989 under the name of Seymour, Blur began from the remnants of another band, Circus. Bassist Alex James would join vocalist/keyboardist Damon Albarn, guitarist Graham Coxon, and drummer Dave Rowntree, to complete the lineup. The rest, was magic. Over the next 15 years, Blur would go on to become one of their native UK’s most influential bands, and quickly expanded to the rest of the world. Even after a decade and a half, Blur continue to command a certain respect amongst bands in spanning several musical genres. Let’s just say that they’ve made an impact.
However, like all great things, Blur had to begin somewhere. Said beginning would be their debut album, 1991’s Leisure
. The album is widely considered to be one of the final (and most definitive) records in the “Shoegazing" period of the late 1980s British alternative rock scene. Leisure
captures the raw essence and popish characteristics that Blur would exude throughout their entire career. Hooky, catchy, and easily accessible Leisure
was a strong effort even by many Britpop band’s debut standards. Remember, this category includes bands such as The Kinks
, The Jam
, and The Smiths
. Blur have some pretty hefty peers to live up to, and they do so most impressively with Leisure
“She’s So High" showcases the overall smoothness and appeal of Blur’s music. Simple, effective music, dreamy vocals, and an absolutely fantastic vibe, “She’s So High" is quite possibly the best way Blur could have opened their debut. “Bang" introduces the quirkier side of Blur’s music. Full of spunk and charisma, “Bang" is a fun song, showcasing unique views on society. Catchy music and lyrics are once again presented in an attractive package. “Bang" is one of several highlights of this album. “Slow Down" does anything but what the title suggests for Leisure
. Rather, it adds even more energy and raw power. Harder music and tougher vocals make for a slightly more straightforward song. However, Blur’s unique sense of melody is safely intact (which is a very, very good thing). The next leg of the album is slightly more experimental, a subtle change from the upfront pop hooks that Blur have put forth so far.
“Repetition" is the first song to slow down the bounding Leisure
. Aptly named for the repetitive music, “Repetition" isn’t quite as good as the three songs that precede it, but it’s still its own type of beast. “Bad Day" may draw some comparisons to Pink Floyd
. It has a more spacey sound to it. It’s an interesting song, and accents how versatile Blur can be. “Sing" is probably the most boring song on the album. While it isn’t inherently bad, it just tends to drag on for a little too much time. Solid song construction, including the good vocals and great instrumentation (particularly towards the end of the song) save it from being a total snooze fest. At 6:01, “Sing" may not be considered to be too long for many artists, but a song of that much longevity just doesn’t mesh well with the overall feel of Leisure
“There’s No Other Way" is the
definitive Blur song. It’s a pop classic, an absolute masterpiece. It’s as hooky as twelve year old’s braces after he’s eaten too much rock candy, and as catchy as an All-Star MLB third baseman. It’s seriously just that
good. One of the strongest songs on the album, there’s no other way to appreciate Blur if you can’t appreciate this song. “Fool" keeps the mood of elation going strong. Louder music is overlain by taut vocals, singing well-written lyrics. The drumming is especially impressive on “Fool." Another great song to add to the impressive catalog that Blur have already established (eight songs into their career, at this point!). “Come Together" is a very catchy song. It’s likely to be playing on “repeat" in the cavities of your brain for quite a while after you hear it. Tell me if you need professional help or something to forget this song (I’m not sure if I need to take such drastic action yet).
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more laidback song than “High Cool." This track just exudes a feeling of pure relaxation. It’s a great song to just “chill to." Of course it’s easy to see why: fantastic musicianship; simple yet effective, and ever-addictive Blur attitude make this one a real winner. “Birthday" is an extremely quiet, extremely tranquil song. It’s a tad melancholy sounding to the start, as opposed to the rest of Leisure
. It’s still a good song, though; it just doesn’t mix well with the mood of the album on the whole. The final song on Leisure
is the ever-pleasing “Wear Me Down." One of the greatest songwriting triumphs on the album, “Wear Me Down" is as excellent a way to end an album as “She’s So High" was to begin one (which means it’s a pretty damn good choice in this slot).
Blur are one of those bands that just kind of suck you in. They’re just so appealing, that it’s hard not to enjoy their music. Leisure
may not be the greatest work they’ve ever done, but it’s still a very fine album. You know what that means, don’t you? All you purists had best drop your veils, because Blur are an experience that need experiencing. Check them out.