Now Playing – twice every week, a roundtable of our writers will give their views on some of the recently-released new tracks. It’s as simple as that! If you want to tell us what you think of the song, feel free to leave a comment below.
Track: ‘Under the Westway’ by Blur
Average grade: 6.0
Tom: Although ‘Under the Westway’ has been widely described as a return to form, it’s a shamelessly regressive move from Blur. It’s likeable, tuneful and sounds like someone doing an accurate impression of Blur. From the use of the elevated motorway signifier, a music cliche so cliched as to have lost any definable meaning, to the Modern Life is Rubbish-era melody that owes a substantial debt to Procul Harum, this song yearns for the past. Any band, but particularly one as unwieldy as Blur, needs a more compelling reason to keep recording surely? 5/10
Richard: For me, Blur have a lifetime pass. So many great memories, they’ve soundtracked several significant stages of my life, and I still turn to them when I need a nostalgic pick me up. They could release anything and I’d give it a ten. So yeah, this is a ten. 10/10
Kenny: Good enough effort considering the length of their hiatus. Never much of a fan of The Great Escape or Think Tank back in the day and this leans more towards the works on those but on balance better to have Blur than to not so 6/10.
Rosie: I was one of Blur’s biggest fans when they emerged in the ’90s – I loved their jangly Cockney rhymes and upbeat Britpop. They’ve come a long way since then, with mixed results I think. I’m not a huge fan of their slower tracks, and whilst I find this one a bit dull there are a few things I can appreciate. I like the jewellery-box tinkling at the start and the imagery in the lyrics; but I find Damon sounding a bit bored, which in turn makes me feel the same. 4/10
Hayley: I like that there’s no airs and graces to this track, and it’s not one of those overtly ambitious comeback singles that uncovers a complete sound overhaul, preventing the risk of them upsetting even the most ardent Blur fan. Put simply, this is an archetypal Blur ballad. Albarn croons morosely over mournful piano, and there’s something distinctly Ray Davies about it, which makes it even better: a classic in the making. 8/10
Anna: I like the piano and the vocal harmonies combined with a bit of guitar riffing here and there. But I don’t love the song; I’m not really a ballad kind of girl, although I appreciate how well constructed the song is. 6.8/10
Stuart: Nope, not a fan of this one. In all honesty, I lost all interest in Blur after The Great Escape (although ‘Coffee & TV’ was a notable later highlight) and, in fact, sided with Oasis during the big Britpop battle of ’95 (not because that northern lot was much better, but because ‘Country House’ really is one of the most heinous crimes against pop music ever recorded).
On ‘Under The Westway’, Damon Albarn’s voice is as weak and dull as ever, lacking any palpable emotion, whilst musically it sounds like a shudderingly awful compote of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ and the timpani-heavy ‘Tony Adams’ by Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros.
And this, THIS has been chosen to close the 2012 London Olympics, you say? A missed opportunity to say the least. Lord Coe should have chosen ‘The Golden Boy’ by Freddie Mercury and gotten Sacha Baron Cohen to sing it in character instead. 2/10
Stef: Oh boy, I just don’t know. There’s something about Blur and that voice that I really like, but there are some things in there that just don’t seem anything but on par for me. Except for the line about the adverts being put inside his brain, I don’t see anything that for me rises above the fray (and to balance it out, there are a few trite moments in there as well). So yeah, decent song, not a Hurray for arguably one of the greatest bands of the 90s though, as far as I’m concerned. And yes, I agree with Stuart that they should’ve done a Sacha Baron Cohen version of ‘Golden Boy’ (though I’m not sure Montserrat Caballe can still be dragged out there to sing). 6/10