Damon Albarn invented “Britpop”. He did it in 3 moves. “Modern Life Is Rubbish” was the birth of it. “Parklife” was the height of it. Finally, “The Great Escape” was the swell that ended the 90’s britpop era for blur. Damon created this music as a reaction to the grunge sound which dominated American airwaves and made popular at the time by Nirvana and Pearl Jam.
Blurs label at the time, Food Records didn’t understand this direction following their first album “Leisure”. With songs written about Damon’s personal life, the music sounded more like the Madchester movement at the time. But with Modern Life Is Rubbish, Blur set out to create musical landscape that was the polar opposite of angst and a shift in direction from Leisure. It contained happy anthemic music that sounded like a British adventure book of short stories telling the tales of the kooky people of England and the seedy neighborhoods they lived in as well as the sketchy bars they drank at.
What stands out to me is that none of the songs on this album sound similar to each other. However there is a cohesive feeling throughout listening to it that you are entering a brand new world of music created by four of the best musicians in their field at the time. The singles on this album were “For Tomorrow” , “Sunday Sunday”, and “Chemical World” but the best song on this album is “Blue Jeans”. A song about holding onto something pure for as long as you can and hoping that it can be as simple as wearing blue jeans everyday. Turns me into a messy emotional school girl every time. This album in a meta sense is very quirky and bold in its delivery. To start it has 69 tracks (on CD) with 2 secret songs at the end: “When The Cows Come Home” and “Peach” which are both equally brilliant but sound nothing alike. Another interesting thing is the liner notes have guitar chord changes so you can play along! Delicious right?
Sometimes bands can be in your life for a long time the way friends and pets can be. Modern Life Is Rubbish for me was the gateway drug that lead me in-between the legs of britpop heaven. While Blur have been the band that has kept me flapping my wings cheerily ever since. Singing..”I don’t really want to change a thing. I want to stay this way forever”