Review: Think Tank, Blur, EMI Records

I have to admit I’m not terribly familiar with Blur’s work, really knowing them only for their two singles that charted in North America, the dance-pop “Girls and Boys” and the harder, anthemic “Song 2” (more commonly known as ‘the woo-hoo song’). Given these two tracks as background, I expected this album to be a combination of fast dance, fast rock, and a wealth of solid hooks.

The first track on the disc immediately let my expectations know that they weren’t welcome here. Think Tank is an album that tells you in no uncertain terms that the boys in Blur are not going to be pigeon-holed any time soon. The album doesn’t let itself sit still in any one groove for very long. Starting out with hard edged electric beat-box type of music, even the first track changes into something resembling 80s slow romantic pop. It’s an odd mix, but it seems to work.

A good portion of the album is a light romantic pop sound, I suppose “brit-pop” would be the appropriate moniker, but fortunately the boys in Blur break it up with some interesting pieces of electronica that range from grunge to jazz influenced sounds. A bit of the blues, a bit of gospel, a bit of punk, a bit of funk, Think Tank takes it all and brings it together with electronic underpinnings that unite what would otherwise be a hugely disparate album.

The weak points of the disc would have to be in those parts where Blur slows down to try to give us more standard romantic fare. It’s perfectly passable romantic pop, and as such perfectly forgettable as well. If the band just remembered that their strength lies in their creativity and innovation the album would be a definite must-buy. If all you know of Blur are the same songs that I knew, you’ll probably be disappointed. If you’re looking for something a little different but at the same time very listenable, you could certainly do worse.

A native Calgarian, Karl is perpetually nearing the completion of his Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Information Studies. He also works for the Computer Sciences Virtual Helpdesk for Athabasca University and plans to eventually go on to tutor and obtain his Master’s Degree.

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