Blur – Parklife (1994)

Blur vs Oasis in the 1990s. It is seemingly now a distant memory. But both bands made excellent tunes. This album is proof of this, and there are quite a few great songs to get your teeth stuck into.

The album begins with Girls & Boys, a cheesy song about the myth of sexuality, or so it seems. It’s hard to get the meaning of the song, but it is catchy nonetheless. A good singalong piece.

Tracy Jacks follows which tells the bizarre tale on a civil servant who strips off naked in public to alleviate his woes. It’s an interesting tale, and well worth listening to.

To show the times, End Of A Century shows a typical night in a British family at the turn of the 20th century into the 21st century. It’s true, “End of the century…oh…it’s nothing special.” This is a typical cynical viewpoint from singer Damon Albarn.

Parklife was the group’s biggest hit off the record and has spoken word verses from Phil Daniels describing a daily life sort of schedule which is amusing and witty. It went high into the pop charts upon release as a single.

For a short and quick song, Bank Holiday is a good break from a typical song structure of the regular album cycle you’d come to expect. A loud Telecaster style sound makes this track almost punk-like in its orientation and is short and nasty with mood. Good though.

Badhead refers to distressed emotions that one experiences in the break up of a relationship. It has a brass section added to it and a fairly blunt chorus: “I might as well just grin and bear it because it’s not worth the trouble of an argument. And in any case I’d rather wear it, it’s like a bad head in the morning.” Direct.

The Debt Collector is an instrumental keyboard piece which is a quirky and arty addition to the record. This sort of thing shouldn’t come as a surprise to fans of the group, as they were art school students.

The next song, Far Out, is what you’d expect from the title of the song. It’s a mainly acoustic piece with some trippy sound effects and is surprisingly short and good. Alex James sings this one, Blur does well here.

To The End shows cynicism once again, and reveals the direct impact of a relationship breakup. Despite the somewhat upbeat instrumentation, it’s not cheerful at all. Only really recommended listening if you are in a regular mood. Despite that, it is a very good song.

London Loves is an underrated and catchy piece of work. With an awesome guitar riff and giving the song enough space to thrive, it does well. It has many dark lyrics in it, but enjoy listening to this one, it’s awesome.

The next song is a quirky tale. Trouble In The Message Centre is about somebody who has a drivel job. Unlike many of their more poppy contemporaries, it seems Blur were having their own take on the pop music of the time, in their own inimitable way.

A warning comes against the touchy issue of suicide in the form of Clover Over Dover. It’s really not easy listening to this one, but with a catchy harpsichord melody it lightens up the surroundings. Good to hear this one at times.

Magic America is sarcasm galore in its approach. It tells the comical tale of Bill Barrett who has a Plan B to go on a spending spree holiday. It’s obvious Blur had quite a few good songs that they had written. This is one of them.

Jubilee tells the joking story of someone who everybody loves to hate. The character itself is a lazy, good for nothing teenager who sits at home watching TV and playing video games all day. Mint.

The following song, This Is A Low, drags on a bit, although the emotion in it is good. It’s not a bad piece, just could be shortened a little.

After the airport like music style of Lot 105, one can sense that Blur had released a great album indeed.

This album, along with other albums of the time, such as Oasis’s Definitely Maybe and Suede’s self-titled album, kick-started the Britpop movement of the 1990s. The songs on this album are really very good. Give this album a listen, you won’t be disappointed.

8/10

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