Blur – Think Tank
After the departure of their guitarist, Graham Coxon, former Britpop heroes Blur decided to go in a completely different direction. They flew off to Morocco and absorbed the culture and musical vibe over there before recording an album that was like nothing anyone had ever heard from them before.
You would be forgiven for expecting a dance-influenced record, as Fatboy Slim features as a producer. However, he only produces two of the tracks, both of which feature guitars prominently. Whilst this is certainly not Blur of old, they have always been looking to change their sound and go in new directions, so any real fans will probably want to at least have a listen to this.
Damon Albarn – vocals, guitar
Alex James – bass
Dave Rowntree – drums
The Moroccan influence is very strong in this album. Having spent some time there myself, I can definitely see that a lot of the rhythms and melodic structures are Arabic-based. However, it has been fused with a westernised sound that makes every song on this album interesting.
A lot of tracks, such as Brothers and Sisters
have a very hypnotic feel, and I find myself listening to these songs not so much in the usual way, but more for the mood they inspire. The songs blend well into each other, and a lot of them, especially towards the end of the record, can become hard to distinguish from each other. However, in such an experimental album this is not as big as a flaw as it would be in more traditional albums.
But there is also a lot of variety. Crazy Beat
and We’ve Got A File On You
are much faster, heavier tracks. Crazy Beat
in particular is a great fast-paced track, very energetic and more reminiscent of the old Blur.
Blur also show their softer side very well on here. Sweet Song
, Good Song
and Out Of Time
are gorgeous ballads that show off Albarn’s voice to its best. All of the instrument playing is interesting on here, as every member of the band has been clearly influenced by his Arabian visit. The production is quite noticeable, as there is a very echoic sound to many of the songs, almost as if they had been recorded in some sort of cavern.
This album is most certainly different-sounding, and it is also interesting as a collection of songs. It marks a very new direction for Blur, and one can only speculate about where it will lead.
I don’t think this is Blur’s best album by a long way, however, for an experimental album they have come out unscathed and with some very good songs under their collective belts. Worth a listen for Blur fans, and for anyone that is maybe looking for something just that little alternative to listen to, but it’s not a must buy.
Out Of Time
Brothers and Sisters