Universal acclaim - based on 24 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 24
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 24
  3. Negative: 0 out of 24
Buy Now
Buy on
  1. 100
    If such bittersweet reflections came packaged on a solo Albarn release, they’d probably be set to sorrowful, detached, acousto-electronic sounds. But his old friends have alchemised those sentiments into songs that elevate his suburban tristesse into moments of sheer ecstasy.
  2. Jul 20, 2023
    An album that feels age-appropriate without being stodgy: it's mature and nuanced, cherishing the connections that once were taken for granted but now seem precious.
  3. Jul 20, 2023
    Blur have proven the exception to the tired formula of the heritage rock revival by releasing a brilliant, brave, and perhaps most importantly, truly creative album just when it was least expected.
  4. Jul 17, 2023
    Tense, manic strings chop away at the languid celebration, presaging a gathering storm of noise that reaches its peak only to be plunged abruptly into silence. No neat resolutions here, folks. Onwards.
  5. Jul 24, 2023
    [The Ballad Of Darren] finds late-life Blur on eloquent, emotional form. It’s an album that often looks back, while summoning textures and nuances that only add to their toolkit.
  6. Classic Rock Magazine
    Jul 21, 2023
    Throughout, this album is a defiantly un-laddish joy. [Aug 2023, p.78]
  7. 80
    As Albarn croons, “Every generation has its gilded poseurs” and The Ballad of Darren prove that Blur are some of the best ever to do it.
  8. Jul 21, 2023
    Here, in the company of his oldest colleagues, he [Damon Albarn] takes stock of his past in the most finely crafted songs of his later career. It is the sound of Britpop all grown up.
  9. Jul 20, 2023
    The Ballad Of Darren has the band sounding as tight and crafted as the first time we heard from the Brit-pop trailblazers except this time around a sense of maturity rings through these 10 songs.
  10. Jul 20, 2023
    Overall, The Ballad of Darren is a captivating sonic journey that goes to great lengths to ignore much of Blur’s rich legacy, but it shows that bands – even those long in the tooth – can still continue their musical growth without sacrificing quality.
  11. Jul 20, 2023
    The tunes are uniformly gorgeous. No one expects career-best stuff from a reformation album, but the sighing melody of The Ballad is among the loveliest in Blur’s catalogue.
  12. Jul 19, 2023
    It’s older, wiser and more reflective. A wonderful surprise album whose existence in 2023 actually makes perfect sense.
  13. 80
    They have a way of transporting you to a precise moment or emotion. It’s why ‘The Ballad of Darren’ is so memorable and touching: you can feel it, everything, in every line sung or note played.
  14. Jul 19, 2023
    While this is a deeply personal work whose soul-searching recalls the defences-down honesty of Blur’s art-rock masterpiece 13, it’s emphatically not a solo album… Though it could be a duo album. One of the most touching elements of The Ballad Of Darren is hearing Albarn and guitarist Graham Coxon singing together.
  15. Jul 18, 2023
    For all these disturbances, this grappling with difficult stuff of life and death, there is lovely, graceful ease to The Ballad Of Darren. This isn't the sound of a band trying to react against their past, or challenge their Britpop audience with US noise, or justify their existence - it's Blur simply showing what they do best. [Sep 2023, p.80]
  16. Jul 17, 2023
    If their late 90s records were marked by the fallout of Britpop and the fallout of relationships, The Ballad Of Darren is marked by this existential contemplation — not quite a breakup or a crisis, but the weight of the changes through the years. It’s a statement of where Blur are now.
  17. Jul 17, 2023
    There is no more potent reminder on The Ballad of Darren of what a back-to-basics approach makes possible than the outstanding lead single, The Narcissist. It's the gorgeous, understated sound of a band that suffered such growing pains for so long finally settling handsomely into their own skin. In that respect, it’s the whole album in microcosm.
  18. Uncut
    Jul 17, 2023
    Better than simply a personal or a confessional album, The Ballad of Darren is clever in what it does and doesn't say about its creator's life. [Sep 2023, p.16]
  19. Jul 24, 2023
    The songs on The Ballad of Darren are measured and contained. In fact, the calm gravitas which pervades the record occasionally plods. Perhaps it’s a meta-commentary on the album’s subject matter, or, perhaps, it’s just hard to make new music for 30 years straight. Yet, there is a relief that is interspersed amid the LP’s gloom that arrives on more high-spirited, familiar tracks that are reminiscent of the group at their spiky-haired zenith.
  20. Jul 20, 2023
    Growing older can be sad, but Blur know that light arrives after darkness. Across 10 songs, you can hear them each trying to find it, hand in hand, harmony after harmony.
  21. Jul 21, 2023
    The Ballad of Darren presents itself as probably the most humble collection in the band’s catalog. With considerable pretentiousness stripped off, we catch a glimpse of sustained vulnerability rarely seen on their records. The sound is familiar, yet miles away from previous efforts.
  22. Jul 20, 2023
    Albarn plays the part of heartbroken confessor, but these meticulously polished songs conjure something more real than anguish: the dulling of losses, the warm aura of midlife decline, and the fading belief, with advancing years, that crisis serves to raise the curtain on your next act.
  23. Jul 24, 2023
    Yes, The Ballad of Darren is Dad Rock. Fairly enjoyable Dad Rock, true, and still a record hundreds of bands can only dream of making, but one that would likely fall by the wayside if anyone else had made it. Is this bad? Not really, and if anything, it proves that Blur can transition gracefully into old age.
  24. Jul 18, 2023
    While The Ballad of Darren may be an emotional journey, it lacks a proper conclusion—though that’s likely by design.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 27 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 27
  2. Negative: 3 out of 27
  1. Jul 22, 2023
    Blur’s worst album by a country mile and The Magic Whip was underwhelming.
  2. Aug 10, 2023
    I'd say this is Blur's worst album but it sounds more like another dreary Damon Albarn vanity project. hard to believe the others signed up toI'd say this is Blur's worst album but it sounds more like another dreary Damon Albarn vanity project. hard to believe the others signed up to this rubbish. Full Review »
  3. Jul 22, 2023
    A great album. The only issue I have with it is that it sounds too much like a Damon Albarn solo project. At several points it doesn't evenA great album. The only issue I have with it is that it sounds too much like a Damon Albarn solo project. At several points it doesn't even sound like Graham's guitar except for the song The Rabbi which I would recommend listening to if you have the chance. Overall every song on this album is great, some are definitely better than others though. Full Review »