The British quartet Blur -- Graham Coxon, left, Dave Rowntree, Alex James… (Rankin )
The beloved and recently reunited Brit-pop band Blur will play one of the biggest concerts of its career on Aug. 12, in London’s Hyde Park for the Olympic Games’ closing ceremony. Earlier this week, however, the band tipped its hand on at least part of the ceremony, which will also feature New Order and the Specials.
The band debuted two new songs it wrote for the occasion via a live performance on Twitter, and released artful lyric videos to accompany the songs. The new tunes, “Under the Westway” and “The Puritan” are very disparate but highlight two elements that inform the band’s work -- attention to songcraft and a restless approach to production.
“Westway” is the ballad of the two, a piano-driven number with gentle atmospherics that pointedly evokes “Let It Be” before building to a triumphant torrent of drums. The lyrics are a pained modern-life lament (“Bring us the day where they turn off the machines”), but turns lovestruck and earnest by the end, and the band earns the sentiment.
“The Puritan” is the bigger departure from the Blur catalog. Perhaps influenced by singer Damon Albarn’s more playful and sonically ambitious Gorillaz project, the song rides a purposefully chintzy drum loop before rupturing in a gush of synth bass and squalling noise. Little bits of jungle drumming and taunting pub-chant bridge keep it restless, and it’s heartening to a hear that a band who could so easily coast on reunion goodwill is still pushing its limits on record.
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