Think Tank 

Blur vs. Oasis. Remember that? Back then, during the height of Britpop, Oasis had trounced Blur commercially with the outstanding success of What’s the Story (Morning Glory) even though competing LP “The Great Escape” was rightfully hailed as one of the best British albums of its time. Almost ten years later, both bands have changed line-ups and whilst Oasis is ostensibly stronger with the additions of Gem Archer and Andy Bell with the solid pop-rock effort Heathen Chemistry, Blur has lost guitarist Graham Coxon during the recording of this, its seventh album, the uneven Think Tank.

Misleadingly, the first couple of tracks may even lull you into a false sense of security as the atmospheric “Ambulance,” the pleasing “Out of Time” and the raucous “Crazy Beat,” whilst never touching the stature of the classic Britpop trilogy viz. Modern Life is Rubbish, Parklife and “The Great Escape,” at least maintains the freewheeling brilliance of Blur and 13.

However, after this short starburst, the rest of Think Tank meanders meaninglessly before dropping off badly into distracted, self-indulgent and mundane chaos. By the time, you get to the largely instrumental (and wholly irrelevant) “Jets,” the stark truth dawns on you – the absence of Graham Coxon’s guitar is a deficiency too big for Damon Albarn, Dave Rowntree and Alex James to breach.

And where once Albarn was lyrically incisive and was compared favourably with the likes of Ray Davies and Paul Weller for his powers of observation and wit, on Think Tank, he comes across like a scatterbrain, piecing together sensationalist, and deliberately scandalous (or hollow) phrases to shock rather than touch.

Quick examples: “Brothers and sisters/Rebuild your lives/We're all drug takers/Give us something tonight” (“Brothers and Sisters”), Why are the C.I.A. having fun/They think you're clever 'cos you've blown up your lungs” (“Crazy Beat”), “Sleeping but my works not done/I could be lying on an atom bomb” and “It's alright we got time/Got a radio hit in mind/Can't see am I blind” (“Gene By Gene”).

To think that I found reviewing Heathen Chemistry a more rewarding and satisfying experience. How sad. C