By New Times
By Derek Askey
By Mark Deming
By Serene Dominic
By Jason Keil
By Robrt L. Pela and Amy Silverman
By Jeff Moses
By Serene Dominic
Damon Albarn, lead singer of the Brit-pop band Blur, hasn't made it much of a secret that he's unhappy with his act's lack of U.S. success. Initially, the only blip it made on the U.S. music radar was a media bitching match against Oasis, who shared a mutual disdain for one another. (You might recall one of Oasis' Gallagher brothers allegedly wishing Albarn would die of AIDS?). That was until that catchy little woo-hooing "Song 2" came along in the late '90s. Now, the song is the antithesis of American (and presumably English) cool -- ranking right up there with the paltry "Rock 'n' Roll Part 2" and "Who Let the Dogs Out" as one of sports fan America's top anthems.
It wasn't until 2001, when Albarn collaborated with producer Dan "The Automator" Nakamura, rapper Del tha Funkee Homosapien and others to form the band Gorillaz, that the bandleader found himself back on MTV, this time with his indie cred restored. Blur, seemingly, now is banking on Gorillaz's success to push its newest album Think Tank, produced in part by Fatboy Slim and William Orbit.
The atmospheric dance album is miles apart in music and energy from Parklife and Modern Life Is Rubbish. While "Song 2" and Blur's minor U.S. marks "Girls & Boys" and "There's No Other Way" were catchy, pure pop tunes, Think Tank is a heady affair. It's an uneven caldron of influences, ranging from the electronica of Gorillaz to the world beat of Mali Music, another Albarn side project. Perhaps the schizophrenic style of Think Tank contributed to founding guitarist Graham Coxon's defection. The album, Blur's first release as a trio, dabbles in overcompressed vocals more than subtle guitar heroics, and may be alienating to some longtime listensers as a result. Perhaps the band could use a "Song 3."