Two decades after their debut, the ever-evolving rock quartet Thrice have finely crafted a dynamic set of songs that are not only sonically pleasing, but lyrically awakening. Their eleventh (Self-Released) studio album, Horizons/East, is an eclectic collection of songs that practices extensive experimentation while maintaining the rawness of previous releases.
When Blur reactivated in 2008 with founding member Graham Coxon, it was a cause for great celebration among fans and the music press. Coxon was really the author of the sound of the band at their pinnacle, along with front man Damon Albarn’s chameleon voice, that put the band on the map during the Brit-Pop explosion of the 90s. But twelve years between albums can be a killer prospect for many artists, especially these days. The band found inspiration to churn out a new album after a chance extended stay in Hong Kong after a canceled tour. That experience is all over the finished result of The Magic Whip (Parlophone) and it’s brilliant.
While every band and other mother is jumping on some sort of revival bandwagon, Blur is not tripping on their own toes. They have turned in a thoughtful and passionate album that furthers stretches out their legacy, rather than repeats it. From the introspective opener ‘Lonsome Street’, and the sleepy ‘New World Towers’, to the electro-folk pondering of ‘Ice Cream Man’, Coxon and Albarn still have a knack for slick songcraft. ‘Go Out’ rocks with a twangy chord progression right out of the work of Carl Perkins. There is more terrific guitar work here as well as the ultra catchy sing-a-long ear-worm part under the chorus. ‘Thought I Was A Spaceman’ might be the album’s centerpiece, philosophical, patient and rewarding. With deft dynamic elements and post-trip hop beats, this track just burrows into your chest and holds your heart.
And it still rocks in spots too. ‘I Broadcast’ and ‘My Terracotta Heart’ don’t rage with the vitriol, but are driving tracks that demand your attention. Other ones such as there ‘Are Too Many of Us’ and ‘Ghost Ship’ sounds as if the late 70s Rolling Stones met up with New Order in 1988 to write some jams. The balladry of closing song ‘Mirroball’ is not a dirge, nor a celebration, but a memory made to last in you, long after the final guitar lines reverberate and dissolve.
Blur is back ladies and gentlemen, and showing us all how a band makes a comeback album without trying too hard at all.