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HomeMusicOn The Ballad of Darren, Blur Search Gentle within the Darkness: Assessment

On The Ballad of Darren, Blur Search Gentle within the Darkness: Assessment

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It’s been an extended eight years since Blur‘s most up-to-date album, The Magic Whip. The world has modified, and so too have Damon Albarn, guitarist Graham Coxon, bassist Alex James, and drummer Dave Rowntree. However after years of solo and aspect initiatives,  The Ballad of Darren finds them as soon as once more creating as a full four-piece band.

In our cowl story highlighting the group’s journey by means of The Ballad of Darren, Albarn asserts that it’s “the primary legit (Blur) album since 13.” It’s an unsurprising declare given the extra heady content material of The Magic Whip, and it units up The Ballad of Darren to be the “return to type” for which followers have been clamoring.

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However whereas The Ballad of Darren finds a basic Britpop stride that many have come to know and love, there’s a way of melancholy swimming by means of every observe. Now, Blur have much less in widespread with their former rivals Oasis and extra with latter day Arctic Monkeys; the orchestral lounge pop and moody tones of Tranquility Base Lodge + On line casino and The Automotive are only some levels away from the contemplative indie present in The Ballad of Darren.

Although he refrains from going into the deep finish, The Ballad of Darren is undoubtedly influenced by loss and strife in Albarn’s private life — separations, the deaths of shut pals and collaborators, the pandemic, and a altering world are all acknowledged all through the album. He ruminates on ghosts and “Many paths I want I’d taken” on the acoustic quantity “The Everglades,” his heat baritone filled with cracks and croaks that radiate intimacy. He stumbles over existential queries, typically asking open-ended questions and questioning if it’s all pointless. He hardly ever escalates past essentially the most snug a part of his voice, a lot in order that when he does prolong his vary, like within the last music, “The Heights,” it seems like all of the lights within the constructing have simply turned again on, if just for a second.

This all factors to The Ballad of Darren serving as a little bit of a lull, a short stopover for Albarn to let loose a few of these middle-aged demons. And but, it’s nonetheless a Blur album, and it’s filled with rousing surprises. Second single “St. Charles Sq.” is an infectious little bit of slacker rock, hearkening again to their wandering early works. It’s appropriately stacked with choirs of “Oohs” and “Ahhs,” however they’re offset by Albarn’s occasional yelps and moody narration.

Many songs comply with this lopsided sample. There are many nostalgic guitar strains from Coxon, starting from serene to vigorous, that develop into counterbalanced by one thing off — often a crushingly unhappy line from Albarn. “Barbaric” is essentially the most guitar-forward music on the album, with Coxon letting the blooming lead line pop simply sufficient to maintain you ready for the subsequent one. It’s a festival-ready sing-along observe, however Albarn’s lyrics are dripping with sorrow.

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