"...a difficult album..."

The melodic creativity of Blur's previous work is evident at the heart of every song on 13. In fact, the songs that frame the album, "Tender" and "No Distance Left to Run" are both fine examples of Blur's ability to blend down-to-earth melodic licks with cathartic lyrics. Gone, however, are Damon Albarn's songs about English cultural stereotypes. For example, say, "Stereotypes" from The Great Escape. These have been replaced by introspective lyrics concerning relationships and emotional struggle.



What does all this mean for the listener? 13 makes strident demands on the ears. In an era in which TV and music have become narcotics, Blur has managed to drop a difficult album into the mix: there is not one song on this album with any prayer of receiving frequent play on commercial American radio.

Still, the album, as a whole, has an ebb and flow that rewards the engaged listener. As one attempts to assimilate the mood and texture of one song, the next song challenges that vibe. Blur plays games with our expectations. Witty lyrics and a careful structure had been the band's signatures until 1997. When they did break free of their contrived framework, they did so within certain limits, never straying far. Now with 13, our expectations are challenged by the length and aural complexity of each tune. Like Sonic Youth before them, Blur is challenging us to stay with them until the end of each tune.


next ducts exit back