First Listen Review: Blur – “Magic Whip”


Genre: Alternative BritPop

The Good: There are many ways in which this album carries unintentional irony. Much of this revolves around the fact that the album was recorded and produced in Hong Kong. First, there is the centrepiece of the album and single “There Are Too Many of Us”. Could this be a nod to the population numbers in China or India nearby? Scholars have spoken about how China’s numbers may have resulted in a moral crisis in which people have less concern for one another.With the album arriving around the same time Nepal’s earthquake and Baltimore’s riots hit the media in frenzy, the song gets at how globalization and the rise in population has in many ways distorted our love for fellow humans. The band once spoke of commercialism ruining authenticity, but now the page has turned to something darker. What we have been seeing is the commercialization of events. One day the death of hundreds or ISIS are hot topics cramming every space of our Facebook newsfeed with debates  making it appear everyone will care to their dying days about solving the world’s issues, while the next these stories have disappeared from our discussions completely. There’s a hint of environmentalism here too. Damon sings of one generation passing questions onto their children. Have the numbers of the population made it too hard to save the planet? Turning to the feel of the album itself, it seems the band finds themselves as small figures on a revolving turntable, the record they are recording inside is an ice cream parlour with a dimming neon light. There are echoes of Damon feeling homesickness on here, but the lyrics may be more profound than they give off. Hong Kong, both Eastern but also one of the most westernized locations in Asia after British rule, is almost a metaphor for the dying influence of America and Europe ,Hong Kong’s independence, or the tension between countries in the Pacific region as two powers are rising above. At times like “Ghost Ship” this is a cause for celebration as it conveys sunny days on south Asian beaches. Other moments across the album like “Thought I Was A Spaceman”, “Pyongyang”, or especially “My Terracotta Heart” there is more sadness or uncertainty about what the future will hold. All of this nicely comes through with a vibe of loneliness. As we are more connected now than ever before with our phones and computers, perhaps the search for individuality and understanding of oneself are more than ever before thrown into question. As a whole, this album may be the band’s more consistent.

The Bad: Not much thus far, it is an album that initially catches the ear, but has so much going on instrumentally and lyrically that you know it will also grow with age.

Would I Listen Again: Definitely


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