Ahhh, you gotta love the Internet. An entire two months before the highly-anticipated release of their seventh studio album, Think Tank, is due to hit the streets, Blur's new work is already making the rounds on the World Wide Web. If it's out there, we might as well give you a blow-by-blow breakdown of the album. The track listing is unconfirmed and but the corellation between song titles and descriptions should be on target.
"Ambulance" - the album opener is more groove oriented than Blur's been since, perhaps, their debut, Leisure. A down-tempo number, shuffling percussion and a prominent bass groove form the underbelly for Damon Albarn to sing over.
"Out Of Time" - this is the first UK single and is a beautiful pop ballad, in the vein of The Great Escape's "The Universal." While not as orchestral as the aforementioned, this song showcases Albarn's distinctive timbre. The music is definitely more world music-oriented so far on the album than in works past.
"Crazy Beat" - this gem is one of the two tracks produced by Fatboy Slim before his falling out with the band and is the most obviously US market-aimed song. The most uptempo song on the album and the most guitar-filled, the song is a glamtastic jump-around jam in waiting. Not as immediate as "Song 2," but the standout rocker of the album.
"Good Song" - we find the band in another down-tempo mood. Yet again, the song relies primarily on the ample vocal talents of Mr. Albarn, with a drum loop and light guitar strumming and backing vocal effects. More New Order guitar texture. Similar to "To The End."
"On The Way To The Club"- this is more evidence of the new, groovier, more vibe-oriented Blur. The ouster of founding member and guitarist Graham Coxon finds the trio closer to a hip-hop-free Gorillaz headspace than that of their former incarnation. A low-slung bass groove and an almost trip-hop-esque percussion pattern lay under Albarn's plaintive vocals. The biggest departure from the norm so far.
"Brothers and Sisters" - while not a Coldplay cover, this is evocative of late '70s Rolling Stones or a male-fronted disco-era Blondie. Wouldn't sound totally out of place on last Charlatans album. Funky and groovy, but not very fast.
"Caravan" - more downtempo goodness from the boys. Sparse instrumentation and effect-heavy vocals are the mainstays this time around. Lots of crazy sounds in background, as well as a melodica appearance.
"We've Got A File On You" - perhaps a nod towards the ever-scarier political situation in the UK and US, a quickly-strummed guitar with Middle Eastern background sounds leads into a punky, shouty up-tempo thrasher similar to the one punk thrash offering of past albums ("Chinese Bombs," "Advert," etc.). Screamed vocals of "We've Got A File On You" and one minute, three seconds later and it's all over. Fun!
"Moroccan People's Revolutionary Bowls Club"- say that one five times fast. Obviously influenced by the band's recording in Morocco (in name at least), Alex James leads off with a funktastic '70s bassline, with a harpsichord making a guest appearance. The vocals are the most Gorillaz-infuenced so far and the percussion is funky. Somewhat similar to early New Order with a world music injection.
"Sweet Song" - another ballad, this song again relies on Albarn's vocal quality to carry it through. Sparse percussion and a keyboard line support this bare-bones, ethereal number. Prettiest song on the record.
"Jets" - while not about the NYC football team or the '80s Samoan pop act, a noodly ukelele/banjo-esque opening leads into drummer Dave Rowntree's straight 4/4 percussion loops and a very front-and-center bass offering from Alex James. Chanted vocals enter later, but this song isn't as much of a song as a studio play-around, it seems.
"Gene By Gene" - another funkier freak out, Damon sings over strings, funky bass and drums in this mid-tempo number. A number of crazy noises and sounds are prominent. A Clash influence is predominant.
"Battery In My Leg" - an echoing piano line stands alone before Albarn joins in. Very sparse in beginning, except for instrumental surges. Very similar to Kid A or Amnesiac-era Radiohead. A highly-effected guitar line enters, sounding somewhat similar to Cocteau Twins or Mazzy Star guitar texture, without being washy. Quite slow through, but very interesting, nonetheless.
"My White Noise" - the album closer and the grooviest, danciest number on the album. Very dance-era New Order influenced, but not an out and out floor filler. Begging for remixes to push it that extra bit to MAKE it a floor filler. Tasty, tasty, tasty.
So, there you have it. The album is definitely growing on me with repeated listens and will be on many top 10s this year, I predict.