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Blur Weave Textured Pop Album

William Orbit-Produced “13” Scores Big

Producer William Orbit admitted this week that
working on the new Blur album reduced him to a
state of “sheer emotional exhaustion.” However, the L.A.-based Brit
added that this was mostly “from trying to harness all this
talent.” Blur, for their part, consider Orbit “very smart,
sensitive, a genius” and are delighted with the results.

They’re calling said results 13. It’s their sixth album
and it follows roughly the same template as their fifth,
Blur: a blend of rough-textured pop and out-there
experiments — some moody ones, some crazed ones, some loud,
impenetrable ones. Seasoned Blur watchers won’t be disappointed,
though they might raise an eyebrow at the first single, “Tender,”
which appears on the album as a whopping seven-minute, forty-second
opening track featuring the London Community Gospel Choir on the
choruses. With its swaying, churchy feel and repetitive structure,
they’ve clearly aimed for a sort of cross between “Hey Jude” and
“You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” encouraging us to: “Come on,
come on, get through it,” (“Do they mean the song?” grumbled one
colleague), after which singer Damon Albarn slips
into a chocolatey tenor to declaim, “Love’s the greatest thing we
have. I’m waiting for that feeling to come.”

These are the first songs Albarn has written since the demise of
his long-term relationship with Justine
Frischmann
, frontwoman of Elastica.
Albarn declares he’s still in recovery from that particular long
goodbye (though he has been spied around town with a new love).
13‘s closer, a country-ish weepie called “No Distance Left
To Run,” seems the most explicit expression of his emotions over
the split. “Hope you’re with someone who makes you feel safe in
your sleep,” he croons, “When you see me please turn your back and
walk away, I don’t want to see you.”

Full track listing is: “Tender” (full version of the single),
“Bug Man” (grungy romp in “Song 2” vein), “Coffee and TV” (written
and sung by guitarist Graham Coxon), “Swamp Song”
(murky rocker), “1992,” “B.L.U.R.E.M.I.” (electro-metal oddity),
“Battle,” “Mellow Song” (guess), “Trailer Park” (rousing keyboard
clamor), “Caramel, Trimm and Trabb” (edgy cacophony) “No Distance
Left To Run” (country discomfort) and “Optigan.”

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