Britpop’s perennially cheeky cockney chappies are on the comeback road and the second single of their renaissance – ‘St Charles Square’ is a sprightly distillation of the many varied elements that made Blur outstanding in the first place. Which elements in particular are they, you ask, for clarification purposes? Firstly, Damon Albarn’s in peak English realist observational philosopher mode, discussing a “basement flat with window bars”, “every generation has its gilded posers”, something running “up and down the clock of the town hall” and the edgingly paranoid sense of something disturbing residing underneath the floorboards.
Graham Coxon has been let loose with the chugging grunge guitar of their eponymous fifth album, complete with some gleefully anarchic solos, the record’s pace stopping short of the ferocity of stand-alone early single ‘Popscene’ but nestling agreeably in the realm of their tunefully raw ‘Modern Life Is Rubbish’ mode.
After trading in the insular experimentalism of ‘Think Tank’ by sussing out what switched on half the nation, nay world, in the 1990s during their last record ‘The Magic Whip’, with Albarn able to work through his more exotic musical whims under the Gorillaz guise, the group’s latest incarnation seems set on getting another truly great typically Blur record out into the world and, chucking sagely reflective recent single ‘The Narcissist’ into the mix too for further evidence, it seems as if they’re about to succeed.
One final point – we wouldn’t imagine the estate agents of London’s Kensington will be too keen to use the song as a glamorous ad for the area, mind – unless there’s a special market for claustrophobically neurotic britpop loving basement dwellers. Great record though.
Blur’s new album ‘The Ballad Of Darren’ is due out soon on 21st July 2023. You can pre-order it now. The track listing will be as such:
1 – The Ballad
2 – St. Charles Square
3 – Barbaric
4 – Russian Strings
5 – The Everglades (For Leonard)
6 – The Narcissist
7 – Goodbye Alert
8 – Far Away Island
9 – Avalon
10 – The Heights
‘St Charles Square’ was released on 29th June 2023. You can watch the single‘s live video, compiled from footage of their recent stint of warm-up gigs that saw Blur debut the song across the country in prep for their Wembley Stadium extravaganzas, below: