Modern Life Is Rubbish (Special Edition)


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As a response to the dominance of grunge in the U.K. and their own decreasing profile in their homeland — and also as a response to Suede’s sudden popularity — Blur reinvented themselves with their second album, Modern Life Is Rubbish, abandoning the shoegazing and baggy influences that dominated Leisure for traditional pop. On the surface, Modern Life may appear to be an homage to the Kinks, David Bowie, the Beatles, and Syd Barrett, yet it isn’t a restatement, it’s a revitalization. Blur use British guitar pop from the Beatles to My Bloody Valentine as a foundation, spinning off tales of contemporary despair. If Damon Albarn weren’t such a clever songwriter, both lyrically and melodically, Modern Life could have sunk under its own pretensions, and the latter half does drag slightly. However, the record teems with life, since Blur refuse to treat their classicist songs as museum pieces. Graham Coxon’s guitar tears each song open, either with unpredictable melodic lines or layers of translucent, hypnotic effects, and his work creates great tension with Alex James’ kinetic bass. And that provides Albarn a vibrant background for his social satires and cutting commentary. But the reason Modern Life Is Rubbish is such a dynamic record and ushered in a new era of British pop is that nearly every song is carefully constructed and boasts a killer melody, from the stately “For Tomorrow” and the punky “Advert” to the vaudeville stomp of “Sunday Sunday” and the neo-psychedelic “Chemical World.” Even with its flaws, it’s a record of considerable vision and excitement. [The American version of Modern Life Is Rubbish substitutes the demo version of “Chemical World” for the studio version on the British edition. It also adds the superb single “Pop Scene” before the final song, “Resigned.”] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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Track Listings

Side 1
1. For Tomorrow
2. Advert
3. Colin Zeal
4. Pressure On Julian

Side 2
1. Star Shaped
2. Blue Jeans
3. Chemical World
4. Intermission

Side 1
1. Sunday Sunday
2. Oily Water
3. Miss America
4. Villa Rosie

Side 2
1. Coping
2. Turn It Up
3. Resigned
4. Commercial Break

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