Britpop fans woke up to a surprise today when Blur‘s official sites dropped a trio of bombshells across social media. The band, who had previously hinted that unreleased material would never surface, announced their plans to release The Magic Whip, their first album in twelve years.
‘We’ve made a new record,’ frontman Damon Albarn revealed in a Facebook-streamed chat with BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe. The album — their eighth — was recorded at Hong Kong’s Avon Studios over the course of five days after the cancellation of a scheduled Spring 2013 concert. ‘We didn’t have much [equipment]; it was like back when we first started recording stuff.’ The recorded material was swiftly abandoned until guitarist Graham Coxon revisited it along with Blur’s longtime producer, Stephen Street, to flesh out the music, after which Albarn began to rework the lyrics.
Albarn noted that the secrecy surrounding the project was freeing and allowed them to work without the pressure attached to ‘a new Blur record,’ especially one that has been anticipated for over a decade. ‘It was really accidental. It was completely natural and spontaneous.’ Albarn said. ‘I was just singing lyrically what was coming in my head.’ Recording in Hong Kong made a visible impression on the album and its artwork, which features the band’s name and album title written in Chinese characters.
The Magic Whip will consist of twelve tracks from that five day recording session in Hong Kong (see below for tracklisting). We can expect the new album in a little over two months on April 27-28th (depending on location). In the meantime, Blur have graciously given us this leading taste of The Magic Whip. Watch the Blur promo for the first single, ‘Go Out,’ below. The song is also available to stream via Spotify.
Blur also announced that they will return to play London’s Hyde Park on Saturday, June 20 to headline the British Summer Time festival. Register now to be included in the pre-sale beginning 9 am on February 26. Regular tickets will go on sale on February 27 at 9 am.
While the group had reunited for shows and a pair of one-off singles, a follow-up to 2003’s Think Tank didn’t seem likely. With Albarn especially keeping busy with his solo work, Gorillaz, and his upcoming musical adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, it seemed as if any future Blur projects had been put on ice.
Today’s reveal was even more of a shock considering Albarn said less than a year ago that the band’s Hong Kong recordings might never see the light of day. Last July, he told the NME, ‘The annoying thing is, if I’d been able to write the lyrics there and then about being there, we’d have finished the record. But sometimes, if you can’t do it all at once, it dissipates really and I don’t know what I’d sing about now with that record. There’s some great tunes on there, but it may just be one of those records that never comes out.’
The Magic Whip tracklisting:
1. Lonesome Street
2. New World Towers
3. Go Out
4. Ice Cream Man
5. Thought I Was a Space Man
6. I Broadcast
7. My Terracotta Heart
8. There Are Too Many of Us
9. Ghost Ship
11. Ong Ong
12. Mirror Ball