Monday, July 2, 2012
Blur Is Pulling Off a Pretty Great Will-They-or-Won't-They Arc Right Now
By Amos Barshad
Earlier today, as they promised they would, Blur released two new original songs. They did so via a livestream of a performance from a London rooftop (it's not embeddable, but you can see it here), which was a pretty apt way of doing things for a sensitive band that keeps on flirting with an all-purpose, world-conquering comeback: both effectively dramatic — tune in now for the exclusive live world premiere!, etc. — and charmingly muted. Yeah, Damon Albarn and his crew were doing some cool rock-and-roll shit on a roof, but they still went about their business in a polite, hangdog manner. First they knocked out the gorgeous, wistful ballad "Under the Westway"; then they ramped things up a touch, for the "la la la's" of "The Puritan." As they wrapped up, a small rippling of off-screen cheers and claps could be heard. Also, it was raining. Perfect.
Both tracks have been floating around, in non-full-band form, thanks to live YouTube clips, and the finished studio versions (released simultaneously with the livestream, and provided below) live up to the potency of those early versions. Clearly, as is not the case, oh, 99 percent of the time, Blur is a band that should reunite because they still have more music to make, and not because seeing them live would delight nostalgic people. Making things either more romantically enigmatic and/or endlessly frustrating, depending on where your head is these days, Blur haven't actually committed to any full comeback. Technically, these new tracks were whipped up for the band's headlining slot at the 2012 London Olympics' closing ceremony, which will also feature New Order and The Specials. As has been the case since Albarn and old pal/guitarist Graham Cox patched things up a few years back for those first reunion gigs in 2009, Blur is in a constant state of maybe. Dropping awesome new jams and playing massive shows isn't how a band that isn't reunited usually acts, though. And so once again, as has been the case with every bit of new Blur action, we await a further progression, into official new-album/world-tour territory. In the meantime, let's enjoy these new Blur tracks and the winking way Blur went about delivering them.