Blur – The Magic Whip
Well-produced garbage, and their worst album since their debut. Predictably, it got lukewarm reviews by publications because they mostly stick to mid-tempo, keyboard-driven art rock that tickles the Radiohead centers of critics’ brains (take this seriously) who were happy to have another Blur album even though it’s completely indistinguishable from Damon Albarn’s solo record from last year and even though every Gorillaz album not made on an iPad is better than this. Graham Coxon, essentially the other half of Blur, sounds like an uneventful solo career has worn him thin. And predictably, it found itself in the who-cares section of some year-end lists (ie. NME). “Lonesome Street” is a lazy strum-along (a highlight, apparently); “New World Towers” has backing vocals cluttering it; “Go Out” sounds like a Blur outtake over vague funk (a highlight, apparently); “Ice Cream Man” has a keyboard line that’s both annoying and the only thing that happens in the song; centerpiece “Thought I Was A Spaceman” is “Empire Ants” all over again (a highlight, apparently), but longer and less massive; “I Broadcast” is the usual toss-off that Blur enjoys throwing in their albums except it’s not earned this time. Am I the only type of person who would rather hear “Ong Ong”, which is the sort of song that they used to knock out the fucking park back in ’94, then “My Terracotta Heart” (a highlight, apparently) or “Mirrorball” (decent guitar/string duet) where they sound completely out of their depth?
Kneebody and Daedelus – Kneedelus
Loses the plot halfway through, with “Home” aiming at “In a Silent Way” (the song from the album, not the album) and missing wildly, and with rather unfortunate treatment of instruments turning tones to cheese in “Move” and closer “Not Love” (which vaguely reminds me of “Videotape”/”Not Yet Remembered”); “Thought Not” and “Rounds” both spin their wheels until their louder conclusions. That everything is mixed to max doesn’t help distinguishing the soft, Daedelus-less songs from the louder ones, thus negating the breathing room that those songs are supposed to provide (safe for funereal “They Are We”), nor does the relative absence of Shane Endsley (trumpet) and Ben Wendel (saxophone) seem to take a backseat role after the fifth track. A damn shame, since they make sense of Daedelus’ rhythms early on.
Future – 56 Nights