Blur are releasing a new album, The Ballad Of Darren, on 21 July. The group made the surprise announcement today and shared a new song, The Narcissist:
“This is an aftershock record, reflection and comment on where we find ourselves now.” Damon Albarn said of the record, which will be the band’s ninth studio album following 2015’s The Magic Whip.
“The older and madder we get, it becomes more essential that what we play is loaded with the right emotion and intention. Sometimes just a riff doesn’t do the job,” said Graham Coxon in a statement from the band.
“For any long term relationship to last with any meaning you have to be able to surprise each other somehow and somehow we all continue to do that,” added bassist Alex James.
Blur are playing an intimate show at Colchester Arts Centre tomorrow (19 May) followed by a short run of warm up shows in Eastbourne, Wolverhampton and Newcastle ahead of two nights at Wembley Stadium on the 8th and 9th July.
Barring a one-off performance at Albarn’s Africa Express in 2019 they will be Blur’s first shows in almost eight years.
“I hadn’t realised it was so long until Alex said it,” Coxon told MOJO in January. “We always said, ‘Never say never…’ It’s like getting together for Christmas with your family. It’s not without its complications, but our relationship didn’t fester, it was always positive.”
“It is really unusual for people in bands to end up not hating each other,” added James. “I can never ever walk away from Blur, and I’ve never wanted to.”
Damon seems to cope with having five different projects in rotation, but he’s a maniac.
This year also marks 35 years since the band formed as Seymour. James mentioned the first song they ever wrote together got a run-through during rehearsals recently, and that it might appear in the coming set lists “in some form”. He also reported that 1995’s He Thought Of Cars and Advert from Modern Life Is Rubbish were played, suggesting the shows might dig deep into Blur’s catalogue. “You can look at streaming data now and see what people are actually listening to,” said James. “Ghost Ship [off 2015 reunion LP The Magic Whip] is really popular! People are listening to stuff from every album.”
“I accept the songs for what they are,” said Coxon. “Even Country House, which I was never keen on, it was a caricature side of Blur. Going back to some of the stuff on [difficult 1999 album] 13 is a bit tricky, it reminds me of times that were a little darker, but it’s still good to revisit it, because it makes you realise how resilient we are.”
Coxon spoke of how a new Blur album was always on the cards, it was just a question of finding the time. “It’s always up for discussion, it’s just having a gap of time,” said the guitarist. “Damon seems to cope with having five different projects in rotation, but he’s a maniac, I’m a bit more idle. A Blur album has never just been a collection of songs and then we shove them in a bag. There has to be some sort of drive about it.”
The Ballad Of Darren is out 21 July via Parlophone and was produced by Arctic Monkeys/Depeche Mode producer James Ford at Albarn’s 13 studios in London and Devon. The full tracklisting is below:
St Charles Square
The Everglades (For Leonard)
Far Away Island