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Review of Modern Life Is Rubbish

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At the time of recording their Sophomore album, Modern Life is Rubbish, Blur were at their (first) career low, off the back of a failed attempt to break the American market, having been defauded by their (former) manager and under pressure from their own label to get a successful album written and released. In the meantime, the British music scene had moved on since the foursome's debut, with the Manchester baggy scene having faded and being replaced with a new-found interest in all things American, in particular Grunge.

Modern Life is Rubbish was penned as something of a reaction to Britain's fascination of America and foreshadowed the way to the Britpop and "Cool Britania" era of the mid 90s with a celebration of all things British instead and begins to show a maturity that was largely missing on the quartet's debut, "Leisure".

While the production dates the record by today's standards and there's the odd piece of filler on the album (Turn It Up) - enjoyable pop hooks, but lacking the depth found in tracks such as Star Shaped and lead single For Tomorrow - Blur proved themselves more than adept at moving from genre to genre - from the punk tones of Advert to the slow and mellow yet beautiful Blue Jeans. Previous single Popscene was dropped from this (the British) version of the release after it flopped in the charts the previous year - as guitarist Graham Coxon put it "if you didn't want it then, you're not fucking having it now!", yet as brilliant and sought after as that single now proves to be, the album probably benefits from it's absence, with it not really thematically following the rest of the album.

15 years ago, critics received the record with relatively warm praise - noting the Englishness inherent in the lyrics and nods to previous English acts such as The Kinks, yet in the context of the sea change that Blur and Suede were on the crest of at the time, Modern Life is Rubbish retrospectively proves to be one of the most important British records of the 90s, and quite arguably Blur's finest work.

Added by Phil
10 years ago on 21 March 2008 23:13

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