Magic Whip

Released: 27th April 2015
Label: Blur

Finding words to start this review of Blur’s new album ‘Magic Whip’ has been difficult. Blur have been a band who I have loved for over half my life, so do I approach this with bias or complete honesty? After much deliberation I have decided that I have to be completely honest which, generally, is the best way to be in life. On first listen the album passed me by, much like when they announced they were back with new material and ‘Go Out’ was played on the radio for the first time.

However, that love for a band never dies and just because something fails to grab you first time does not mean you should give up on it. The very fact that Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon have recorded a full album together, their first since ‘13’ in 1999, is a celebration in itself and that alone was enough to make me want to keep returning to ‘Magic Whip’. After listening to the album several times I can say with complete honesty that ‘Magic Whip’ is a great album, it’s not Blur’s best but after such a long wait it is just great to have Damon, Graham, Alex and Dave back together and recording music that is certainly worthy of our time, love and attention.

Now that the penny has dropped for me, I can instantly hear highlights that I can’t believe I missed on my first listen; ‘Lonesome Street’ has those unmistakable Coxon guitar riffs and Damon’s take on consumer culture as he sings “What have you got, mass produced in somewhere hot”. ‘New World Towers’, like many of the songs on the album, shows that Blur are not a band looking back and trying to reclaim their former glories, this is such a forward thinking song and I love the combination of piano and bassline throughout.

‘Ice Cream Man’ is a huge slice of strange, hypnotic and beautiful pop music. The more you listen to ‘Magic Whip’ the more you will fall in love with it and your favourites will change with every listen, I have even found myself drawn to ‘Go Out’ which did absolutely nothing for me when I first heard it.

Before I leave you to form your own opinions I need to give mention to ‘Thought I Was a Spaceman’ which is probably the album’s most melancholic song with lyrics that make you stop and think “Thought I found my blackbox washed up on the shore”. ‘I Broadcast’ comes bouncing at you from all angles and leaves you with a great big smile on your face....Blur are back! ‘My Terracotta Heart’ is a piece of pop genius with gentle, hypnotic melodies, infectious percussion and a heartbreaking chorus as Damon sings “I’m running out of open roads to you”. ‘Ong Ong’ is a joyful, sing-along crowd-pleasing moment that could only have come from Blur. ‘Mirror Ball’, a ballad to end the album, makes us feel so pleased to have Blur back in our hearts.

What Blur have managed to do, where many who have tried to make comebacks and failed, is give us an album full of new material which is far removed from a band at the end of the road relying on their past glories.

Steve Tay

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