http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/777c272cb5f2d8a7a5a498bdf0841ad6e22dc0c9.jpg 13



Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 3.5 0
April 1, 1999

The London art-school boys in Blur have built one of the decade's choicest bodies of work, hopping from style to style with breezy melodies and snotty wit, and 13 is their fourth straight keeper. They're a throwback to the days when bands had that gang mentality: There's the mouthy, obnoxious singer (Damon Albarn); the shy, bespectacled guitar wizard (Graham Coxon); the superfox bassist (Alex James); and some bloke on the drums (Dave Rowntree). Parklife and The Great Escape were Kinks/Jam/Bowie-style satires on sex, fame and money, with string sections and that sort of thing. But Blur stripped down for 1997's Blur, the back-to-school blast of guitar junk that spawned the American hit "Song 2" (you remember: "Wooo-hooo!"). 13 builds on the style of Blur, turning up the guitar hooks and letting the tape roll.

New producer William Orbit (of Madonna fame) loosens up Blur for their sloppiest, most playful set yet, spiking the mix with church organ, electric piano and shambling drum loops. It's the kind of album you can't wait to play for your guitar-geek pals, as Coxon makes his ax squeal, hum, fizz and even levitate at the end of "1992," a top-notch freakout that almost lets you forgive his recent solo record. Like all Blur albums, 13 has filler: too much studio-improvised headphone goop. But the real songs go places. "Tender" is a gentle gospel sing-along, while Albarn sings some surprisingly sincere heartache ballads (best line: "I lost my girl to the Rolling Stones"). "Coffee and TV" propels a marriage proposal over a warm gush of guitars that sounds like Pavement sitting in with Brian Eno circa Taking Tiger Mountain — after three or four minutes, your only complaint is that the song has to end. As do the other great moments on 13, "Coffee and TV" gives you the pleasant feeling of getting run over by a hit squad on Vespas: all in all, a smashing time.

Album Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories


    The Commodores | 1984

    The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

    More Song Stories entries »