Blur

Biography: Original Members: Damon Albarn, vocals Graham Coxon, guitar Alex James, bass Dave Rowntree, drums and percussion Blur got its start in Colchester, England in 1989, where college friends Albarn, Coxon, and Rowntree formed a new band from the ashes of Circus, their previous band. Under the name Seymour, the group later added James on bass, and began performing in clubs and releasing demo tapes for several months. Eventually, they scored a record deal in 1990 with EMI subsidiary label Food Records, who later stipulated for the band to change their name. Reemerging as Blur, the band released their debut single "She's So High" in October 1990. The single's success led producer Stephen Street to help the band craft their first album, leading to a partnership with Street that lasted well into the band's career. Blur's debut, Leisure, finally appeared in the fall of 1991, earning relatively positive reviews. However, the band's stylish pop sensibilities and the album's timing lumped it into the already-dying "Madchester" scene, causing frustration within the group. A relatively unsuccessful tour of America in 1992 didn't help either, resulting in the band having to rethink its approach, along with developing a sour taste of the music scene in general.

During this time, Blur's next single "Popscene" was released, earning favorable reviews for the song's energy and punky attitude. The band, specifically Albarn and Coxon, remained undeterred however, causing a lack of work from the band for months. Eventually, through the prodding of producer Street, the band went to work for a full year on its follow-up to Leisure, resulting in Modern Life Is Rubbish in 1993. The album was widely seen as a return to form, with the band reinventing their image along the way from "baggy" to "Mod". The music was also a leap forward as well, taking their musical ambitions that were only hinted at in Leisure and creating something entirely new and fresh. The timing was perfect as well, as the album fit in nicely with the debut of up-and-comers Suede, where both bands soon became the heralds of a new genre of British pop music, Britpop.

The band, now revitalized, channeled their newfound creative energy and released two more albums in the next two years, 1994's Parklife and 1995's The Great Escape. Both albums expanded even further on the growth made from Modern Life Is Rubbish, and were considered landmarks in '90s British pop music, with Parklife later considered to be the band's masterpiece. The albums also helped to break open the doors for countless other Britpop bands to emerge. In addition, 1995 also brought the now-famous rivalry between Blur and rock-n-rollers Oasis, where both bands released a new single simultaneously that August, resulting in a "Battle Of Britpop" between the two bands. The winner of the contest was Blur, however, the band was soon overshadowed by the enormous success of Oasis that followed.

By 1996, the attention that had followed Blur was starting to decrease, causing further tension within the band, almost resulting in a departure by Coxon. This didn't last long, however, as the band set out to once again reinvent themselves with their next album, resulting in Blur in 1997. While it did release a couple of successful singles ("Song 2," "Beetlebum"), the album was once again overshadowed by the success of other bands, this time being Radiohead, The Verve, and Oasis. Disgruntled with the lack of attention along with the eventual demise of Britpop, the scene they helped to start, the band once again considered a reinvention, causing the dismissal of long-time producer Street.

With the tension and turbulence that had begun to consume the band, the resulting album, 1999's 13, was seen as a lyrically-sensitive endeavor, showcasing more darker and melancholy overtones for the band. Even though the album garnered favorable reviews, the band realized a break was needed after a rather intense decade. Therefore, 2000 brought a compilation album The Best Of Blur, and the band members seeing to much-needed personal downtime. In the meantime, Albarn found time to create the cartoon supergroup Gorillaz, releasing an album in 2001, as well as Coxon beginning some solo work.

2002 saw the band reunite to begin work on their next album. However, the group's much-needed break found Coxon to be less enthused with continuing on with Blur, resulting in his departure from the group. Undeterred by the change, the trio soldiered on towards the next album, leaving the door open for Coxon to return if he chose. Eventually, 2003 brought Blur's seventh album, Think Tank, where the lack of Coxon's guitar presence was apparent from the album's electronic textures. No matter, the album garnered favorable reviews and was seen as a logical progression for Blur, due to the recent changes in the band.

Regardless, the release of Think Tank brought the band to another hiatus in 2004, with Albarn continuing his work with Gorillaz and Coxon continuing his solo career. For now in 2006, the status of Blur is unknown, although Albarn and James have mentioned progress on another album for the trio. Until then, we shall wait and see.
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Blur's Scores

  • Music
Average career score: 85
Highest Metascore: 92 Blur 21
Lowest Metascore: 79 13
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 6
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 6
  3. Negative: 0 out of 6
6 music reviews
Title: Year: Credit: User score:
85 Parklive Dec 4, 2012 Primary Artist 8.0
92 Blur 21 Jul 31, 2012 Primary Artist 8.4
86 Midlife: A Beginner's Guide To Blur Jul 28, 2009 Primary Artist 8.9
83 Think Tank May 6, 2003 Primary Artist 9.0
88 The Best Of Blur Nov 21, 2000 Primary Artist 9.0
79 13 Mar 23, 1999 Primary Artist 8.3